Monday, 10 December, 2018

Toshiba slashes 7000 jobs, pulls out of British N-plant

Priscilla Morrison | 10 November, 2018, 14:31

"After considering the additional costs entailed in continuing to operate NuGen, Toshiba recognises that the economically rational decision is to withdraw from the United Kingdom nuclear power plant construction project, and has resolved to take steps to wind-up NuGen", it said. But after more than a year of negotiations, a deal could not be secured.

Toshiba is going through a sweeping reform effort to revive itself following the disastrous acquisition of United States nuclear energy firm Westinghouse, which racked up billions of dollars in losses before being placed under bankruptcy protection.

Toshiba has confirmed plans to wind up its United Kingdom nuclear venture behind the development of the planned Moorside power station in Cumbria.

Japanese conglomerate Toshiba will end its nuclear project in the United Kingdom early next year, a statement released by the company read Thursday. It said it hoped to complete the sale by March 2019.

A statement from Toshiba said: "Unfortunately, it has not been possible to successfully conclude those negotiations. My ambition remains - the country needs new nuclear as part of our low-carbon energy generation and Cumbria needs Moorside".

In recent years the original NuGen consortium members all abandoned the scheme, leaving Toshiba sole bearer of the risk.

The other stemmed back to early 2017 when the then Toshiba subsidiary Westinghouse filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S. in early 2017 - a move which ultimately led Toshiba to divest from overseas nuclear projects and pursue the sale of NuGen.

In good news for shareholders, Toshiba plans to buy back up to 40% of its own shares as part of a long-term goal of increasing dividends.

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Sue Ferns, senior deputy general secretary of scientists' union Prospect, called for state intervention to save the scheme, saying the future of the United Kingdom nuclear industry was at stake.

Toshiba had also held talks about selling the project with Canada's Brookfield Asset Management but they also fell through, a source told Reuters last month.

But the plans disintegrated after it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S. in early 2017 having overpaid by several billion dollars for another nuclear construction and services business.

The move resulted in Engine's withdrawal and led Toshiba to look for buyer for NuGen.

Unions have attacked the government for not intervening earlier to save the plant with the fate of the nuclear power station being cast into doubt in July when a large majority of staff in Cumbria were laid off.

Earlier this week, GMB national secretary Justin Bowden called for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority to be scrapped and a new Nuclear Development Authority to be created to develop a small modular reactor on the site.

Union leaders described it as "depressingly predictable", saying relying on foreign companies for the UK's essential energy needs was irresponsible.

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