OMERS fund working with SNC on Canada nuclear bid

Mon Feb 28, 2011 1:46pm EST
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By John McCrank

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System said on Monday it is working with engineering and construction firm SNC-Lavalin on a bid to buy the commercial reactor business of Canada's nuclear agency.

SNC, with the backing of OMERS, one of Canada's largest pension funds, is eyeing Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd's Candu unit, which provides nuclear technology and services for electricity generating stations, OMERS Chief Executive Michael Nobrega said on Monday.

He did not say how the bid was worth, but added that the process to buy the commercial services unit was down to two bidders -- SNC and Bruce Power, a partnership that operates a nuclear generating station in the province of Ontario.

The Bruce Power partnership includes uranium producer Cameco Corp and pipeline company TransCanada Corp.

SNC shares were down 1.12 percent at C$56.44 on the Toronto Stock Exchange around midday on Monday.

Canada's Conservative government put AECL's Candu reactor division up for sale in 2009 after years of huge annual subsidies and a poor performance from the business. It plans to retain ownership of AECL's research and medical isotope business and place it under private management.

"The federal government will keep things like Chalk River -- isotopes -- if it wants to do that. The federal government will keep waste, the federal government will keep major research," Nobrega told reporters in Toronto after the fund released its 2010 results.

The aging Chalk River nuclear plant in eastern Ontario is a major producer of isotopes used in medical procedures such as cancer testing.   Continued...