EDF buys land near British nuclear sites
The French power company has bought land near nuclear sites in England and Wales, reports newspapers.9 May 2008
LONDON - State-owned French power company EDF, in the running for a stake in British Energy, has bought land near two existing nuclear sites in England and Wales, the Financial Times said Friday.
The business daily said the firm had acquired land near Wylfa on the island of Anglesey, north Wales, and Hinckley Point, in the county of Somerset, southwest England.
It assessed that the "stealthy purchases" could allow it to build up to three new atomic power stations, regardless of whether it is successful in its bid for British Energy.
Friday is the deadline for bids for the British government's 35.2 percent stake in British Energy, which provides nearly 19 percent of the country's electricity. It also owns and operates eight nuclear power stations.
French business daily La Tribune said Tuesday that the EDF group, which is the biggest producer of nuclear energy in the world, is considering purchasing the stake and creating a joint company with Britain's Centrica.
German power giants RWE and E.ON plus Spain's Iberdola are also said to be among the likely bidders.
The Daily Telegraph said Friday that EDF and its advisers, Merril Lynch, were putting together a pitch worth between GBP 9.2 billion (EUR 11.7 billion) and GBP 10.2 billion.
The British government approved a new generation of nuclear power stations in January this year, signalling that they were likely to be built on or near existing sites primarily by private firms.
The FT described EDF's acquisition of the land as "a move of strategic audacity" which "positioned itself to take a leading role in Britain's nuclear future irrespective of what happens to British Energy".
It noted that planning disputes with local residents were likely but the land could end up being worth hundreds of millions of pounds.
"EDF still has a long way to go before it could build on any of the land it has bought. But the land deals will be another reason for it to argue that a price above 700 pence for British Energy is unrealistic," the newspaper added.
[AFP / Expatica]