French energy firm may reduce stake in eight existing nuclear reactors it owns to raise money for Hinkley Point C project
An artist’s impression of how EDF’s new Hinkley Point C power station will look. Photograph: EDF Energy/PA
EDF is considering the sale of a €3bn (£2.2bn) stake in its British nuclear business in a bid to raise cash for new Hinkley Point reactors. Possible buyers would be state-owned Chinese companies, who are already committed partners on the £18bn Somerset project.
EDF could unveil details of a sell-off plan on 16 February, when it is scheduled to release annual financial figures and is expected to give a final investment decision on building Britain’s first new reactors for 20 years.
The French daily, Les Echos, reported on Thursday that EDF may reduce its stake in the eight existing nuclear reactors it owns from 80% to 51% by bringing in a new investor as part of a wider €6bn disposal programme.
Industry sources told the Guardian that the possible sell off was only one of a number of different options that were under consideration as the group looked at financing Hinkley Point C and other projects.
They said it was still likely EDF would give the go ahead to Hinkley next month even though it did not have all the financing in place. The project is estimated to cost £18bn, according to EDF, though the European Union has warned it could go as high as £24bn.
Centrica, the owner of British Gas, already has a 20% holding but has made clear in the past that it does not want a larger commitment to nuclear, and declined to participate in the Hinkley newbuild scheme.
The entire existing nuclear fleet, made up of advanced gas reactors such as those at Hinkley Point B in Somerset and Dungeness B in Kent, have a book value of €9bn.
Chinese firms have already agreed to take a one-third stake in the Hinkley project and are keen to build their own new reactors at Bradwell, another site currently used by EDF in Essex.
EDF struggled to interest anyone else in the Hinkley scheme, which many in the City have deemed over-expensive, so the Chinese would seem first in line to buy into the rest of the EDF nuclear business if it comes up for grabs.
Source: The Guardian