British Energy in $1bn Canada bid

BRITISH ENERGY, the nuclear power group, is understood to be preparing a US$1bn (pounds 625m) bid for the Bruce plant, Canada's biggest nuclear station.

The Edinburgh-based company is expected to launch its offer in the new year in conjunction with AmerGen, the group's US joint venture. If the bid is successful, the acquisition will be BE's biggest overseas deal to date. The company is said to be interested in acquiring further plants in North America.

AmerGen, a 50/50 joint venture between BE and Peco Energy, has already bought five US stations with a combined generating capacity of about 5,000 megawatts. The group last week took control of the Clinton power station near Chicago, and is expected to complete the acquisition of the Three Mile Island plant in Pennsylvania this week. Other US acquisitions in the pipeline include the Oyster Creek and Vermont Yankee stations and two power plants at Nine Mile point. BE has invested about pounds 100m for its shares in the plants.

The Bruce plant is owned by Ontario Power Generation, which supplies 85 per cent of energy in the region and which has been ordered by Canadian authorities to reduce its share to 35 per cent. The plant is the first to be sold by OPG. It comprises the Bruce A and B stations, which have a total capacity of 6,200Mw.

Analysts say BE could face competition from US companies such as Entergy, Dominion Resources and Duke Power to acquire the Ontario assets.