UPDATE 2-Siemens, Russia eye powerful nuclear alliance

Tue Feb 3, 2009 6:13pm GMT

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(Recasts, changes headline, adds details competitors)

By Simon Shuster and Shamil Baigin

MOSCOW Feb 3 (Reuters) - Germany's Siemens (SIEGn.DE) and Russia's state nuclear company have pledged to look at closer cooperation in what Russia said could lead to a powerful alliance in the world nuclear market.

Siemens and Russia's Rosatom, both already major players in the world nuclear market, said they would assess closer ties in the field of atomic energy, after talks in Moscow with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

"We are ready to move from the realisation of piecemeal projects to the creation of a full partnership between Siemens and our company Rosatom," Putin said. "We will help the realisation of your projects in any way we can."

Sources familiar with the situation said last week that Siemens had exited its nuclear venture with Areva NP to set up a partnership with Rosatom subsidiary Atomenergoprom. [ID:nLQ466525]

"We suggest creating a working group to discuss the possibility of our cooperation (with Rosatom) in order to come to a concrete decision before the end of April," Siemens CEO Peter Loescher said after talks with Putin.

The delegates stopped short of penning a concrete deal on an alliance on Tuesday, though they did sign a memorandum on cooperation.

Siemens has worked with Rosatom on several projects since the 1990s, including safety and control services for two power plants in Slovakia. They are also partnering on the Belene nuclear power plant in Bulgaria.

"From tomorrow we are creating a working group that will in the shortest possible time lay out a programme for a strategic cooperation," said Sergei Kiriyenko, the chief of Russian state nuclear corporation, Rosatom, which controls Atomenergoprom.

"This a great time to build an alliance as the world nuclear market is undergoing a renaissance," Kiriyenko said.

Atomenergoprom was created by Putin, while he was president, to merge all of Russia's civilian nuclear assets and help them compete in the global market.

Russia, one of the world's biggest sellers of enrichment services, has been trying to break into the prosperous nuclear markets of the United States and European Union, and has been eyeing a possible alliance in the world market.

Competitors include Areva NP, a unit of Areva S.A. CEPFi.PA; Japan's Toshiba Corp (6502.T), which owns U.S.-based Westinghouse; and GE Hitachi, the nuclear venture of U.S. conglomerate General Electric (GE.N) and Japan's Hitachi (6501.T). (Additional reporting by Irene Preisinger in Frankfurt; writing by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Simon Jessop) (simon.shuster@reuters.com; +7 495 775 1242))