Hitachi, UK say no decision taken on British nuclear project
* Japan's Nikkei reported the project would be scrapped
* Project could generate around 6 pct of UK's power
* Britain keen for new plants to replace ageing fleet
(Updates with industry, green group comment)
By Susanna Twidale and Makiko Yamazaki
LONDON/TOKYO, Jan 11 (Reuters) - Japan's Hitachi
has yet to decide whether to proceed with its trillion yen ($28
billion) nuclear project in Britain and talks with the
government are continuing, the company and government said on
Hitachi's Horizon Nuclear Power unit has struggled to find
investors for its plans to build a plant in Anglesey, Wales,
which could provide about 6 percent of Britain’s electricity.
Japan’s Nikkei business daily reported that Hitachi had
decided to freeze the project, although it also reported that
the board had yet to vote to make it a formal decision.
A spokeswoman for British Prime Minister Theresa May said
talks with Hitachi were continuing. "The negotiations on that
are ongoing and those are obviously commercially sensitive so I
can't comment," she told reporters.
May met Japanese Prime minister Shinzo Abe this week in
London. He told her Japan did not want to see a disorderly
Brexit when Britain leaves the European Union in
Hitachi said in Friday's statement that it had been
assessing the project "including its potential suspension and
related financial impact."
"Should any matter arise which needs to be disclosed Hitachi
will announce information in a timely manner," Hitachi said.
Nikkei reported that Hitachi had decided to freeze the
project, leading to a special loss of 200 billion to 300 billion
yen ($1.9 billion to $2.8 billion) for the year ending in March.
Hitachi's board would vote on the suspension at a meeting next
week, it reported, without citing its sources.
Hitachi said in its statement on Friday: "These articles
aren't based on Hitachi's decision or disclosed information."
Hitachi was hoping a group of Japanese investors and the
British government would each take a one-third stake in the
equity portion of the project. A company source has said the
project would be financed one-third by equity and rest by debt.
Britain wants new nuclear plants to help replace its aging
fleet of nuclear and coal plants coming offline in the 2020s,
but high up-front costs have deterred construction.
Another Japanese firm, Toshiba Corp, scrapped its
British NuGen project last year after its U.S. reactor unit
Westinghouse went bankrupt and it failed to find a buyer.
Britain's Nuclear Industry Association said it is vital new
nuclear projects went ahead to maintain electricity supplies.
"New nuclear is an integral part of a future decarbonised
power supply," said the association's chief executive, Tom
Environmental group Greenpeace said Britain should rethink
its energy strategy and place more focus on renewable energy.
Shares of Hitachi rose by as much as 6 percent on the Tokyo
stock exchange after the report.
($1 = 108.3400 yen)
(Reporting by Susanna Twidale in London, Makiko Yamazaki in
Additional reporting by Elizabeth Piper in London
Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Edmund Blair)
First Published: 2019-01-11 14:49:36
Updated 2019-01-11 17:16:10
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