A Toxic Privatization?

WILL THIS IPO BE RED-HOT--OR RADIOACTIVE? The Treasury Dept. is selling the government's uranium-enrichment operations, an enterprise known as U.S. Enrichment, in an initial public offering it hopes will raise between $1.35 billion and $1.65 billion--making it one of the largest privatizations in U.S. history. But industry insiders are mixed as to whether U.S. Enrichment can get the price it wants. Critics say the company is saddled with aging technology, declining demand, and a number of ongoing government mandates that could crimp its bottom line. For its part, the company is betting that a new laser-based technology could dramatically boost its profits in coming years.