German firm could join race for British Energy

German energy giant E.ON today signaled it could join the race for up-for-sale nuclear power group British Energy.

E.ON formally retracted a reported statement in which the group ruled out out any plans to take over the power generator.

The words, which were reported in FT Deutschland and attributed to a spokesman for the firm, said: "We have looked at the company and its power plants. We will neither bid on our own or together with others."

But the company tonight issued a retraction, saying: "E.ON wishes to clarify that the reported statement is incorrect and was not approved by the board of E.ON. E.ON accordingly retracts the statement."

British Energy - which operates all eight of Britain's nuclear power stations - announced it was open to offers last month and has subsequently been linked to a range of suitors including French giant EDF and German energy firm RWE.

At the weekend, Swedish power giant Vattenfall was also reported to be considering making an offer. There has also been speculation that British Gas owner Centrica is looking to mount a bid, either on its own or with another company.

Prospective bids for British Energy have been reportedly priced at as much as £11 billion, significantly above the current £7.5 billion market valuation of the group.
It is expected to play a major role in the proposed development of the next generation of nuclear power supply.

The UK Government owns a 36 per cent stake in the firm and sold a 25 per cent stake in the company last year which raised £2.08 billion.

British Energy has around 6,000 staff and produces around one-sixth of the UK's electricity. Its eight nuclear power stations are Dungeness B in Kent, Hartlepool, Heysham 1 and 2 in Lancashire, Hinkley Point B in Somerset, Hunterston B in Ayrshire, Sizewell B in Suffolk and Torness in East Lothian. It also owns a coal-fired power station at Eggborough, East Yorkshire.

Image: British Energy controls eight nuclear power stations in the UK, including Dungeness B

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