Japan's Toshiba to buy 60% stake in UK nuclear venture

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Japan's Toshiba has agreed to buy a controlling stake in UK nuclear venture NuGeneration, which aims to build three power plants in north-west England.

NuGeneration is set to construct three new nuclear plants at the Moorside site in West Cumbria.

Toshiba is to buy a 60% stake in the project, in a deal worth about £102m.

Toshiba has been looking to develop its overseas nuclear business after the 2011 Fukushima disaster dampened demand in Japan for atomic power.

Toshiba shares rose to a six-month high in Tokyo trade following the news.

NuGeneration is currently owned by France's GDF Suez and Spain's Iberdrola.

The deal is expected to be completed in the first half of the year. It will leave GDF Suez with a 40% stake.

In a statement, Toshiba said the purchase "represents a major investment in the future, and in supporting the UK to meet the challenges of securing a stable, affordable, future energy supply and cutting CO2 emissions."

Nuclear ambitions

NuGeneration plans to build three new plants at the Moorside site in partnership with GDF Suez and Westinghouse, a US-based company owned by Toshiba.

Japanese engineering firms have been looking for opportunities outside of Japan after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami sparked a nuclear crisis at its Fukushima nuclear plant.

The reactor meltdown at Fukushima caused the world's worst atomic accident in decades.

As a result of the crisis, Japan mothballed its nuclear plants and resorted to importing fuel to meet its energy needs.

However, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has encouraged domestic nuclear firms to look for contracts abroad.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has also been pushing to upgrade the UK's electricity infrastructure by the end of the decade.

In October, EdF, Areva and two Chinese nuclear companies agreed to build the country's first new nuclear plant in two decades.

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