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Kazakhstan to buy 10 percent of Westinghouse from Toshiba

by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Aug 13, 2007
Japan's Toshiba Corp. said Monday that it has agreed to sell 10 percent of US nuclear power plant maker Westinghouse Electric to Kazakhstan's state-run energy company Kazatomprom for 540 million dollars.

By forging ties with the uranium-rich former Soviet republic, Toshiba aims to secure stable supplies of the resource used by power plants.

"By welcoming Kazatomprom -- a global leader in resource exploitation -- as a Westinghouse investor, Toshiba will strengthen the global development of its atomic energy business," the Japanese company said in a statement.

Toshiba and Kazatomprom have agreed to cooperate in various fields and begin discussions on joint projects, it added.

If approved, the deal could spark controversy in the United States where environmentalist groups have already urged the government to block the proposed sale of a stake in Westinghouse to the central Asian republic.

Last year, Toshiba invested almost 4.16 billion dollars to take a 77 percent stake in Westinghouse Electric from British Nuclear Fuels.

The sale fetched more than twice as much money as expected amid a renewed interest in nuclear energy in the United States.

International energy firms are competing to secure nuclear fuel amid growing energy demand, particularly in emerging economies such as China and India. Japan now procures uranium mainly from Australia and Canada.

Toshiba said that the transfer of the Westinghouse shares would be completed within about one month, subject to regulatory approval.

After the sale, Toshiba will retain 67 percent of Westinghouse Electric, while Shaw Group Inc. of the US will continue to hold 20 percent and Japanese engineering group IHI Corp three percent.

US government approval is required for a foreign entity to take a stake in an American business possessing nuclear technology, but US officials have indicated the deal poses no problems, the Nikkei newspaper reported last month.

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World's largest nuke plant closed for months
Tokyo, Aug 10, 2007
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