BNFL profits soar to £208m

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The Independent Online

British Nuclear Fuels said its businesses were well placed for life in the private sector after underlying profits rose by 23% to £208 million today.

The annual figures were posted as BNFL completes the sale of its US-based Westinghouse division and prepares for the disposal of British Nuclear Group, which is the site management and nuclear clean-up part of the business.

State-owned BNFL, which operates 18 sites including Sellafield, said new ownership of its three main operating divisions would provide stimulus for them to deliver further improvements, particularly as the prospects for nuclear generation and services were "significantly improved".

The company is in the process of transferring all its historic liabilities to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), which will take on responsibility for the Government's multibillion-pound clean-up work.

The sale of BNG, which will soon compete for contracts from the NDA, is likely to attract interest from a number of US-based firms, including Fluor and Bechtel.

BNG announced profits of £72 million on revenues of £2.01 billion in its first full year as a management and operations contractor. The profits figure is down from £108 million in 2005, but reflects the company's new position as a contractor under the NDA.

Westinghouse, the nuclear reactor-maker being sold to Japanese firm Toshiba, made profits of £94 million, against £83 million last time. Urenco, a jointly owned business which enriches uranium for use in atomic-power stations, lifted profits by £14 million to £71 million.

The group profits figure of £208 million is based on continuing operations and strips out exceptional costs, such as the £29 million spent on winding down the BNFL corporate centre. Profits fell to £153 million, from £206 million, when interest payments and one-off items are included.

BNFL chief executive Mike Parker said he was "delighted" with the results.

He added: "They show that we are well on track with our strategy of developing excellent businesses that can succeed in their own right.

"All of our businesses have demonstrated strong operational and safety performance and are now well positioned for the future."