July 31, 2018 / 1:19 PM / 17 days ago

South Korea's KEPCO loses preferred bidder status for UK nuclear project

LONDON (Reuters) - South Korea’s Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO) (015760.KS) no longer has preferred bidder status to buy Toshiba’s (6502.T) NuGen nuclear project in Britain, Toshiba said on Tuesday.

“Toshiba continues to consider additional options including the sale of its shares in NuGen to KEPCO, and we are carefully monitoring the situation, in consultation with stakeholders including the UK government,” a spokesperson for Toshiba said in an email to Reuters.

The project in Moorside, north-west England, was expected to provide around 7 percent of Britain’s electricity when built, but has faced setbacks after Toshiba’s nuclear arm Westinghouse went bankrupt last year.

Following the Westinghouse bankruptcy, NuGen joint venture partner Engie (ENGIE.PA) pulled out of the project, leaving the Japanese firm searching for new investors.

KEPCO was chosen as preferred bidder last year but delays in concluding the deal have led to a review of operations at NuGen and of the roles of its 60 direct employees plus around 40 contractors.

Britain needs to invest in new capacity to replace aging coal and nuclear reactors that are due to close in the 2020s, but large new plants have struggled to get off the ground due to high costs and weak electricity prices.

Reporting by Susanna Twidale, editing by Louise Heavens and Kirsten Donovan

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