Canada to seek partners for nuclear reactor firm

Thu May 28, 2009 3:01pm EDT
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By Randall Palmer

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada said Thursday it plans to sell part of its government-owned nuclear technology business to big international companies or forge some kind of alliance with them to gain global reach.

Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt said she accepted the conclusions of an official review that said Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd (AECL) could not succeed in its current form.

The government will turn to big corporate players for alliances, such as taking an equity stake in the AECL's Candu nuclear reactor division, merging with the division, or forming joint ventures on specific projects.

"We think that we can compete on a global scale but we need help getting to the globe in order to sell our reactors," Raitt told a news conference.

The review by her department listed France's Areva, Toshiba Corp's Westinghouse and the U.S.-Japanese joint venture GE-Hitachi as the three vendors referred to most often.

It also named Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Russian state-owned Rosatom as significant industry players.

GE said the government was right to try to strengthen AECL's competitiveness. "GE has supported Candu technology since the 1950s and we continue to see a solid future for the technology," said company spokesman Dan Nelson.

Areva said partnerships have long been at the heart of its strategy. "We believe that this can be the beginning of a new stage in Canada's long and successful nuclear history," said Areva Canada President Armand Laferrere.   Continued...