CHRONOLOGY-British Energy in bid talks

LONDON Mon Mar 17, 2008 8:44am GMT

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LONDON (Reuters) - Nuclear power generator British Energy BGY.L, the 5.9 billion pound group which is 35-percent owned by the government, said on Monday it was in talks which could lead to a takeover offer.

Here is a chronology on the ups and downs of British Energy.

July 1996 - British Energy privatised. It owns eight nuclear power stations and one coal-fired plant.

May 2002 - British Energy reports a 493 million pound pretax loss but surprises analysts by continuing to pay a dividend to shareholders.

August 13, 2002 - The company closes Scottish Torness reactors because of technical problems and slashes its electricity output forecast for the year. Shares fall nearly 30 percent.

September 5, 2002 - Shares suspended after the company says it may face insolvency because of low power prices. Seeks state support.

September 7, 2002 - Financial Services Authority starts probe into whether investors were misled about its financial position.

September 9, 2002 - Government gives it a 410 million pound loan until September 27. Shares resume trading, fall 65 percent.

September 26, 2002 - Government extends its financial lifeline to British Energy until November 29.

October 1, 2002 - Belgium complains to European Commission over UK aid to British Energy. Commission promises speedy decision.

September 22, 2004 - The European Commission clears a government-backed bailout despite sustained lobbying by minority investors for a rival plan. The scheme was first agreed by the government, British Energy and its creditors in 2003 and gives bondholders more than 90 percent of the restructured company's equity in a 1.3 billion pound debt-for-equity swap. A British court approves the deal in January 2005.

January 2005 - The Department of Trade and Industry completes a debt deal with British Energy to help stave off possible bankruptcy, shouldering 5.1 billion pounds of power plant decommissioning liabilities.

March 17, 2006 - Britain's National Audit Office says the government was right to pick up British Energy's liabilities as power price volatility meant it could not have foreseen the revival in the company's fortunes.

April 19, 2006 - British Energy says it has sold 65 percent of this year's projected output at prices more than a fifth higher than last year's, lifting its shares.

October 16, 2006 - Shares sink almost 20 percent to 2006 lows after it says it would shut two nuclear reactors after finding cracked pipes at two other power stations.

February 13, 2007 - British Energy said it was inviting potential partners to submit proposals to build new nuclear power plants in anticipation the government would give the firm the go-ahead.

May 30, 2007 - The British government said it planned to sell a 25 percent stake in British Energy, cutting its stake to below 39 percent, using the proceeds of 2.1 billion pounds to help fund the decommissioning of the firm's existing nuclear plants.

August 16, 2007 - British Energy reported a 12-percent fall in first-quarter core profits after cracks caused outages at its Hinkley Point and Hunterston stations.

October 22, 2007 - British Energy shares dive as problems at two of its power stations, Hartlepool-1 and Heysham-1 threatened to slash output.

December 11, 2007 - Reaches long-awaited decision to extend the lives of two reactors -- Hinkley Point and Hunterston -- by an extra five years to 2016, helping Britain towards its ambitious climate-change goals.

January 10, 2008 - Britain gave the go-ahead to a new generation of nuclear power stations, setting no limits on nuclear expansion and adding momentum for a worldwide renaissance of atomic energy.

February 6, 2008 - British Energy said it was in talks with more than 10 potential partners to build new plants in Britain.

March 6, 2008 - Britain said it was making up to 18 more sites available for the next generation of nuclear power stations and signalled an acceleration of its plans for new reactors.

March 17, 2008 - British Energy said it was in talks which could lead to a business combination of a takeover offer.

(Reporting by Mike Elliott; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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