British Energy sale deal nears

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The Independent Online

Nuclear power firm British Energy is set to be sold for more than £12 billion next week, according to reports today.

The buyer - French energy firm EDF - is said to be close to clinching the deal in the next few days before selling a minority stake of around 25 per cent to British Gas parent Centrica.

British Energy, which is capable of producing one-sixth of the UK's energy needs, first confirmed takeover talks in March after the Government decided to sell its 36 per cent stake in the business.

But in June the group dismissed a series of approaches as not "representing shareholder value" - including a reported offer of around 680p from EDF.

British Energy said none of the potential deals were above the 735p a share mark - failing to take into account soaring wholesale electricity costs and the potentially major role of its sites in the development of Britain's nuclear power supply.

But according to the BBC, EDF could now be prepared to pay as much as 775p, valuing British Energy at more than £12 billion.

Shares in British Energy rose almost 6 per cent following the report as the renewed speculation of an imminent deal excited investors.

A source close to the talks quoted by the BBC said: "There's a push to conclude a deal before the holiday. We hope it will be done in the next few days."

British Energy's eight nuclear power stations are Dungeness B in Kent, Hartlepool, Heysham 1 and 2 in Lancashire, Hinkley Point B in Somerset, Hunterston B in Ayrshire, Sizewell B in Suffolk and Torness in East Lothian.

The group, which has around 6,000 staff, also owns a coal-fired power station at Eggborough, East Yorkshire.