U.K. Defies ‘Gloomsters’ After Areva, Guangdong Nuclear Pull Out

Oct. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Areva SA and China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group Co.’s decision to halt a bid for the U.K.’s Horizon nuclear venture leaves undiminished the nation’s attractiveness for atomic investors, according to Energy Secretary Ed Davey.

“Decisions by any individual consortia don’t change that reality,” he said today in southern England. “What the Horizon bidding and sale process has shown is how attractive the U.K.’s nuclear offer is and I would urge the gloomsters to wait.”

The government isn’t involved in the “commercial aspect” of EON AG and RWE AG’s sale of the venture, he said. Horizon has state backing to set up reactors in Wales and western England.

Areva said yesterday it suspended the plan announced in July to team up with China Guangdong Nuclear and utilities to bid for Horizon. Areva’s group was one of three expected to bid.

A Hitachi Ltd.-led partnership confirmed it submitted a bid yesterday, and a group comprising Westinghouse Electric Co. and China’s State Nuclear Power Technology Corp. was expected to put in a proposal. Westinghouse today declined to comment.

The U.K. program had lured interest from foreign investors, “making it clear they thought Britain was a good place to invest in new nuclear, and that remains the case,” Davey said.

With all of Britain’s reactors slated to shut by 2035, the government is seeking to spur delivery of new plants through a bill that guarantees power contracts. The bill, published in draft form in May, sets arrangements for a so-called “strike price,” or a guaranteed return for generators of nuclear and other low-carbon forms of power such as offshore wind farms.

Electricite de France SA is the lead company negotiating with the government over the strike price for nuclear after three utilities including SSE Plc and Germany’s RWE and EON dropped their plans for new nuclear building since September.

“The energy bill will be published before we conclude the negotiations with EDF,” Davey said. EDF plans to make a final decision on a new reactor in southwest England by the year-end.

To contact the reporter responsible for this story: Sally Bakewell in London at Sbakewell1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at landberg@bloomberg.net