An $8.5bn bid to buy a 66 per cent share in the government-controlled Urenco nuclear group is in the offing, with a possible consortium attempting to be formed by former chief executive Patrick Upson behind one potential move.

Urenco, which enriches uranium for nuclear power plant fuel is currently owned by RWE, E.ON and the Dutch and British governments. The Dutch government is eager to hold on to its 33 per cent share.

Nuclear power cooling towers
The FT reports that the ownership and control of Urenco is intricately managed by several treaties between the three nations to avoid unauthorised proliferation of nuclear technology.

The UK Department of Energy & Climate Change said no final decision has been made on the future of the Britain’s share of Urenco. However, an adviser is expected to be appointed to consider options for its stake.

Each state has a veto to block a sale and given the potential risks to national security of passing control of the enricher to a foreign company, it is possible a deal may not happen.

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