Hitachi near $629 million British nuclear project deal: media

Sat Oct 27, 2012 1:03pm EDT
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TOKYO (Reuters) - Hitachi Ltd (6501.T: Quote), Japan's largest industrial electronics maker, is close to buying British nuclear new-build project Horizon in a deal expected to be worth more than 50 billion yen ($628.46 million), Japanese media said on Saturday.

Horizon, which plans to build 6 gigawatts of nuclear capacity, was put up for sale by its German owners E.ON AG (EONGn.DE: Quote) and RWE AG (RWEG.DE: Quote) in March, as Germany's decision to pull out of nuclear power hurt the utilities' finances.

"Hitachi has made the best offer and has a good chance to get Horizon," a source inside the consortium familiar with the process told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity. Another person with knowledge of the proceedings also said Hitachi was likely to be the winner.

Hitachi is expected to hold a board meeting on Tuesday to approve the deal and officially announce it later that day, both the Asahi daily newspaper and Kyodo newswire reported, citing sources familiar with the matter.

Another newspaper, the Mainichi daily, reported that in addition to building the nuclear units, Hitachi is also expected to win a contract for about 40 years to operate and maintain the reactors.

Hitachi officials were not immediately available to comment on the report.

Officials at E.ON and Horizon declined to comment, while a RWE spokesman said: "We are in the final stages. We will probably say more in the coming days."

On Thursday, a RWE said it was in advanced talks to sell Horizon, after a German newspaper reported that a consortium led by Hitachi was the front runner for the Gloucester-based venture.

Hitachi, along with Canadian counterparty SNC-Lavalin (SNC.TO: Quote), and Westinghouse plus its parent company Toshiba Corp (6502.T: Quote), have both made bids for Horizon, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said earlier this month.   Continued...

A sample of Hitachi's lighting equipment is seen at an electronics shop in Tokyo October 27, 2012. REUTERS/Toru Hanai