Sale of nuclear clean-up authority attracts 13 bidders

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The Independent Online

The sale of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), the Government-owned nuclear clean-up business, has attracted 13 bids.

A source close to the auction said that bids were submitted last month, with the shortlisted parties expected to be informed early next month. However, the bids are thought to be around the £30m-40m mark, when adviser Greenhill had hoped for closer to £50m.

The bidders include: Amec, the Ftse-100 engineer; VT Group, the defence and support services company; Serco, the aviation-to-local government services giant; Finmeccanica, the Italian conglomerate; and Babcock International, the quoted defence-to-rail services outfit.

Bidders are understood to be frustrated by what they claim is a prolonged sale process. They believe that there has been insufficient information on the overall timetable. However, they are keen on UKAEA because of the shortage of engineers in the sector at a time when the Government is embarking on a roll-out programme.

Tony Fountain, a former BP vice-president, was confirmed last week as chief executive of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), which oversees the country's £73bn nuclear clean-up work.