Mandelson set for nuclear decision

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The Independent Online

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson will decide in September whether the Government will provide Sheffield Forgemasters International a loan for a £140m, 15,000-tonne steel press.

The press would make the firm one of only three worldwide that can manufacture large components to the civil nuclear power industry. Lord Mandelson is known to be keen for the UK to become a market leader in this field.

Sheffield Forgemasters has already secured £40m, but is hoping to make up the shortfall through public and private funding. Graham Honeyman, its chief executive, added that several banks have expressed an interest. But he ruled out borrowing from banks charging interest rates of more than 5 per cent. "We made our submission to the Government a few weeks ago," he said, "and we're going to provide [more] information on 22 July. We expect a decision following an internal government meeting in the middle of September."

Sheffield Forgemasters started life in the 19th century, and is one of the UK's oldest major manufacturers.

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