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Areva, Guangdong Nuclear Decide Against U.K. Atomic Bidding

Areva SA and China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group Co. decided against bidding for the Horizon venture in the U.K. being sold by German utilities EON AG and RWE AG.

Areva, based in Paris, and the Chinese company “suspended their interest in the planned sale,” Patricia Marie, a spokeswoman at the French developer, said today by e-mail.

The company said July 7 it would team up with utilities and CGNPGC to bid for the venture, which has government backing to set up reactors in Wales and western England.

Areva’s group was one of three expected to bid for Horizon by Sept. 28. A Hitachi Ltd.-led partnership put in a proposal, Keisaku Shibatani, a spokesman, said today by phone, declining to name its partners. A group comprising Westinghouse Electric Co. and China’s State Nuclear Power Technology Corp. was also expected to bid. Westinghouse U.K. Chief Executive Officer Mike Tynan couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Areva’s action is a blow to Britain’s nuclear plans as it seeks to replace atomic plants, upgrade grids and cut emissions requiring about 110 billion pounds ($177 billion) of investment by 2020. The U.K. is one of only three western European nations pursuing new nuclear plants after last year’s disaster in Japan.

“We are seeing a high level of interest in the U.K. nuclear market, including from a diverse range of potential new entrants,” the Department of Energy and Climate said by e-mail.

Officials at RWE and EON, which in March pulled out of the venture because of rising costs, declined to comment.

Hinkley Point

The decision to withdraw probably came from the Chinese contingent, Malcolm Grimston, an analyst at Chatham House in London, said today by phone. The Chinese may have provided most of the investment with Areva as plant provider, Grimston said.

“Having other companies there with the money to build them would have been helpful,” he said. All of Britain’s nuclear reactors are due to shut by 2035 and it’s seeking to spur new plant projects through a bill that guarantees power contracts.

Areva’s EPR reactor, which is in the final stages of the U.K. assessment process for new designs, is being built in Finland, France and China. Electricite de France SA plans to use two EPRs at its Hinkley Point site in Somerset and two at Sizewell in Suffolk. EDF plans to make a final investment decision on Hinkley Point by the year-end, while Iberdrola SA and GDF Suez SA are also pursuing their U.K. nuclear plans.

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