Toshiba is facing pressure to secure investment from a South Korean energy group and the UK government to keep afloat a multibillion-pound British nuclear power project as the Japanese conglomerate struggles with mounting financial difficulties. Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) has been in talks for months to join the NuGen consortium planning a nuclear plant at Moorside in Cumbria alongside Toshiba and Engie of France. The need for new partners has been increased by huge write-downs on Toshiba’s nuclear business in the US, which has left the group scrambling to shore up its balance sheet. As well as Korean capital, Toshiba is angling for UK government investment in the Cumbrian project after Theresa May’s administration recently signalled its willingness to put public money into new nuclear plants. This would represent a reversal of longstanding UK policy not to expose taxpayers’ money to the heavy expense and high risks involved in building nuclear reactors. A Whitehall official said it was “premature” to talk about government involvement in financing Moorside but several other people involved in the process or briefed on the matter said the option of public investment was on the table. But these people said a more immediate step to keep the scheme on track was the proposal for Toshiba to sell part of its 60 per cent stake in NuGen to Kepco, the utility majority-owned by the South Korean government. There has also been speculation over the commitment of Engie, the French utility one-third owned by the French government, but NuGen told the Financial Times that both its shareholders were “committed to the development of the Moorside project”.
FT 23rd Jan 2017 read more »