Business

Toshiba forced to buy 40% of UK's NuGen

An artist's impression of Moorside nuclear plant Image copyright NuGen
Image caption The Moorside nuclear plant on the Cumbrian coast is due to open in the mid-2020s

Toshiba has been forced to buy the 40% of the UK nuclear energy company NuGen that it does not already own.

NuGen has the contract to build a new nuclear power plant in Cumbria.

The French utility company Engie said it was exercising its "contractual rights" to sell its shares because NuGen was "facing some significant challenges".

Last week, Toshiba's Westinghouse in the US, which was to build the plant's reactors, sought bankruptcy protection.

The troubled Japanese giant said that only Westinghouse's US operations would be affected by the bankruptcy.

However, at the time media reports suggested bankruptcy could delay the project at Moorside in West Cumbria or even put its future in limbo.

'Action'

It is estimated that the Moorside plant would eventually provide as much as 7% of the UK's energy needs.

In Tuesday's statement Toshiba said the bankruptcy filing was "an action that meets the definition of an 'event of default' under the terms of the agreement" with Engie.

"Engie has accordingly exercised its rights to require Toshiba to buy its holding."

Toshiba is paying about 15.3bn yen ($138.5m; £111.2m) for the stake.

The added that it would "continue to look for investors interested in investing in NuGen, and seek to sell off its holding in the company".

Dispute

The problems at Westinghouse have dragged on Toshiba.

In December it emerged that it faced a heavy one-off loss linked to a deal done by Westinghouse, which had bought a nuclear construction and services business from Chicago Bridge & Iron (CB&I) in 2015.

But assets that it took on are likely to be worth less than initially thought, and there is also a dispute about payments that are due.

In February it emerged that the loss would be about $6.3bn (£5.05bn).

Toshiba's chairman resigned, the firm delayed releasing its full financial figures - initially for a month - and then even longer.

To plug the gap, Toshiba is set to sell a majority stake in its NAND flash-memory business to get it through its continuing financial turbulence.

All this came on top of Toshiba's struggles to turn the corner after a profit-inflating scandal.

In a statement, the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy said: "The NuGen consortium has always planned to bring in other partners to deliver the project and we engage regularly with a range of developers and investors.

"The Secretary of State is currently in South Korea for talks on future collaboration between our two countries, including on potential civil nuclear projects."

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