British Energy under pressure

11 November 2002 – Later this month British Energy’s à‚£650m government loan will expire and no extension is expected, according to sources close to the nuclear power producer.

“They are being very clear to us,” said the source last night. “They are saying, ‘Unless there’s a solution by November 29. You will go into administration We will pull the plug’.”

The pressure from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is intended to bring about long-term solution which will avoid British Energy going into administration although the DTI is preparing itself for this possibility.

British Energy still faces challenges to the legality of the government loan from Greenpeace in the UK courts and at European Commission level. The Belgium government have formally complained about what they regard as illegal state aid.

Since there are many complex issues involved there is some doubt whether a solution will be found in time but it remains to be seen whether the British government has the stomach for another high profile business failure after Railtrack.

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