NuGen looking for 12-15 billion pounds nuclear investment by end 2018- CEO

LONDON (Reuters) - NuGen, a joint venture between Japan's Toshiba 6502.T and France's Engie, ENGIE.PA is looking for financing worth 12 to 15 billion pounds to build three nuclear reactors in Britain, its CEO said on Thursday.

Tom Samson, who became NuGen chief mid-2015, said the firm wants to take a final investment decision by the fourth quarter of 2018 and is talking to potential equity investors and creditors about financing for the project, set to be built at a site next to the Sellafield nuclear site in west Cumbria.

“We are having constructive discussions with a number of players who want to come into this project,” Samson told Reuters on the sidelines of the World Nuclear Association conference.

“Progress would look like fully committed funding to the totality of the cost, which will be between 12 and 15 billion pounds,” he said.

NuGen is 60 percent owned by Toshiba, whose Westinghouse unit will provide the AP1000 nuclear reactors for the project which is expected to produce first power in 2025.

Samson said NuGen is looking at a number of financing options, including export credit agencies and nuclear players or vendors looking to expand their expertise in a country like the UK.

On Monday a source familiar with the situation told Reuters that South Korean power utility KEPCO 015760.KS is in talks with Toshiba and Engie about buying a stake in NuGen.

“I will not comment on the Korean speculation,” Samson said.

He said NuGen would not start excavations and construction until it is confident the financing is in place.

French utility EDF, EDF.PA which plans to build two nuclear plants in Hinkley Point, the first in Britain in a generation, had spent over 2 billion euros in laying the groundwork before its board gave the final go-ahead for the project.

Samson said he was confident he would find investors for their project because there is a fleet of Westinghouse AP1000 reactors under construction globally.

“We will be the 17, 18 and 19th AP1000s in the market when we come to build ours in due course and that experience provides us with a great degree of confidence in our ability to deliver this technology in the UK,” he said.

He said he welcomed the UK government’s decision to take more control over ownership of nuclear projects.

“It is a demonstration of government support for the nuclear industry,” he said.

Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle