September 11, 2018 / 12:55 PM / in a month

Toshiba's NuGen slashes headcount at British nuclear project

LONDON (Reuters) - Toshiba’s NuGen has cut the team working on its British nuclear project, to fewer than 40 people from more than 100 as a sale of the project is taking longer than expected, NuGen said on Tuesday.

The plant in Moorside, north-west England, was expected to provide around 7 percent of Britain’s electricity when built, but has faced several setbacks after Toshiba’s nuclear arm Westinghouse went bankrupt last year.

Following the Westinghouse bankruptcy, NuGen joint venture partner Engie pulled out of the project, leaving the Japanese firm searching for new investors.

Toshiba put NuGen up for sale and Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO) expressed interest, but the process has stalled.

“For over a year, Toshiba has pursued a sale of NuGen to KEPCO. Due to the prolonged time it has taken reach a conclusion, NuGen has undertaken a review of its size and scale,” a spokesman for NuGen said in an emailed statement.

NuGen said it remains committed to delivering the Moorside project and that the retained core team “will be focussed on securing a sale of the NuGen business and supporting Toshiba’s activities.”

Britain needs to invest in new capacity to replace ageing coal and nuclear reactors that are due to close in the 2020s, but large new plants have struggled to get off the ground due to high costs and weak electricity prices.

Reporting by Susanna Twidale; editing by Jason Neely and Louise Heavens

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