BNFL to buy US nuclear reprocessor in $1bn deal

BRITISH NUCLEAR Fuels is buying a major part of CBS Westinghouse for around $1bn, making the UK state-owned group the biggest nuclear reprocessor in the world.

The move, which will be announced in London this morning, is being seen as a possible precursor to privatisation under a New Labour government which has overcome initial shyness about the sale of state assets.

BNFL has beaten off strong competition to win control of the nuclear side of the US company CBS Westinghouse for a price believed to be around $260m. But the British company will also take on a part of the Westinghouse liabilities, making the deal worth $1bn in total.

It will make BNFL one of the largest British employers in America. It has built up a significant subsidiary in the US with sales contracts worth $2bn.

A spokeswoman for BNFL in London refused to comment on the Westinghouse deal, saying: "We never comment on speculation." As to whether such a move would lead towards privatisation, the spokeswoman added: "BNFL is owned by government so it would be up to them to comment on such issues."

The nuclear and government services divisions of Westinghouse are the last parts of the company to be spun off by by CBS, which will now focus its efforts on media.

BNFL was bidding with Morrison Knudsen, an Idaho-based US engineering company, against other consortia including Bechtel, the US group, and Framatome, the French nuclear giant.

Though there are no regulatory implications in the US beyond the normal requirements of antitrust law, it will imply renewing agreements with the US Department of Defense and the Department of Energy, Westinghouse's largest customers, as well as other commercial nuclear operators.

BNFL will, by taking on Westinghouse, become a key supplier to the US government. Westinghouse manages facilities for tritium production for the US weapons programmes, and handles spent nuclear fuel and dismantled nuclear weapons from the US navy.

BNFL has built up a significant business in the US since it established its own operating subsidiary, BNFL Inc, in 1990. The Washington-based company now holds contracts worth $2bn, mainly to clean up and manage old nuclear weapons sites, like the one at Savannah River in South Carolina.

BNFL's US success, built on expertise established in the UK, has helped swell the group's turnover in 1997 to pounds 116m on sales of pounds 1.2bn.

Globalising BNFL and making it a key player in the US market, the transaction raises big questions about its continued ownership by the British government, corporate sources in America say. It may lead to changes in the structure of ownership, if not all-out privatisation.

Westinghouse Electric Company has 24,000 employees around the world, a substantial increase in BNFL's already important overseas activities. It supplies new plant design, services, fuel and instrumentation and control technologies for 400 plants around the world.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Sales Adviser - OTE £24,500

£22500 - £24500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Inbound and outbound calls with...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £40,000

£18000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing Insurance Bro...

Guru Careers: Research Associate / Asset Management Research Analyst

£40 - 45k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Research Associate / Research Anal...

The Green Recruitment Company: Graduate Energy Analyst

£20000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Summary: The Green Recruitm...

Day In a Page

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'
Singapore's domestic workers routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals

Singapore's hidden secret of domestic worker abuse

David Cameron was shown the country's shiniest veneer on his tour. What he didn't see was the army of foreign women who are routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals
Showdown by Shirley Jackson: A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic

Showdown, by Shirley Jackson

A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic
10 best DSLRs

Be sharp! 10 best DSLRs

Up your photography game with a versatile, powerful machine
Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash