Toshiba offers Westinghouse

The Japanese electronics firm Toshiba is seeking to sell between 46 and 49 per cent of Westinghouse, the US nuclear group it recently agreed to purchase from British Nuclear Fuels Limited for $5.4bn.

Market analysts expect the Japanese firms Marubeni and Mitsui to purchase the largest stakes with the US engineering group Shaw also to acquire a sizeable holding. Toshiba is likely to favour any offer from Shaw to help ease the passage of its purchase through US regulations.

BNFL expects to have completed the sale of Westinghouse to Toshiba within the next six months. Despite welcoming offers of interests in Westinghouse, Toshiba has spelt out its intention to remain the majority and controlling shareholder.

ABB reverses fortunes

Strong increases in orders, revenues and earnings before tax have helped engineering firm ABB post a net income of $735m in 2005, reversing a $35m loss in 2004.

President and CEO of ABB, Fred Kindle, said after the figures were released: “We have successfully moved into a phase of profitable organic growth.”

ABB’s Power Technologies division reported a 64 per cent increase in earnings before tax in the fourth quarter of the year, in spite of $43m in charges related to the previously announced transformer consolidation programme.

Largely thanks to an impressive second half of the year and further operational improvements in the fourth quarter, the company was also able to cut its net debt to approximately $500m at the end of December 2005, from more than $1bn at the end of the previous year.

Metso buys Aker Kvaerner

Scandinavian firms Metso and Aker Kvaerner have agreed to a NOK3bn ($450m) deal that will see Metso acquire Aker Kvaerner’s pulping and power businesses.

Seeking to free up resources for other areas of its operations, Kvaerner was sold in the belief that Metso is better positioned to take on the challenges currently posed by the pulp and power industries.

The company’s president and CEO said in a statement: “The market is increasingly asking for deliveries of an even more complete range of products and services.”

Metso aims to use its newly acquired assets to capitalize on recent growth in South America and Asia.

The final agreement for the deal should be signed in April this year, after it gains approvals from the relevant regulatory authorities.

IFC aims for higher standards

The International Finance Corporation has adopted new environmental and social standards that it believes are “stronger, better, and more comprehensive than those of any other international finance institution working with the private sector”.

The new standards build upon the environmental and social requirements the organization currently applies to private sector projects it finances in developing countries. It has also adopted a new policy to aid transparency from project developers.

A new ‘outcomes-based’ approach will be adopted by the standards, requiring client companies to have in place effective management systems that allow them to handle social and environmental risks.

Wärtsilä posts record results

Wärtsilä’s power businesses returned the best operating result in the Finnish company’s history in 2005, contributing €202.5m ($243m) to the group’s total operating income of €224.3m.

EDF growth

Two months after shares in EDF began trading on the stock market, the company has reported a doubling of its net profits for 2005 at over €3.2bn ($3.9bn) from sales of over €50bn.

Alliance surges forward with grid protection

American Superconductor and Siemens AG have renewed their alliance for a second year to develop and explore the commercialization of high temperature superconductor fault current limiters.

Fault current limiters are being developed to serve as high voltage surge protectors for power grids. By the end of this second year, the companies aim to have demonstrated a small-scale device.

The limiters use American Superconductor’s second generation high temperature wire, which it has just taken its first orders for. The company has taken orders from 18 customers in seven countries for a total of 2500 m of superconducting wire, selling the first 1000 m at an average price of $100/m.

News digest

Blackout prevention: Severon and Siemens PTD are to jointly market products and services that help prevent electric power outages.

Cell mates: Saint-Gobain Vitrage, Saint-Gobain’s Flat Glass Sector and Shell have agreed to jointly develop a new generation of solar panels based on copper indium selenide thin film deposited on glass.

Ceramic bliss: Australia based Ceramic Fuel Cells has floated on the London Stock Exchange with the intention of raising revenue to fund a new manufacturing facility, likely to be in the north of England.

CCHP development: Capstone Turbine and Broad USA have agreed to jointly develop fully integrated cogeneration systems that will integrate Broad’s 20, 40 and 60 tonne absorption chillers with Capstone’s microturbines.

E.ON and on: E.ON’s latest financial results show that the company grew sales by 21 per cent from €46.7bn ($55.6bn) in 2004, to €56.4bn in 2005.

Electric Raser: The technology licensing company, Raser Technologies, is to acquire Amp Resources in a deal that will see it assume control of energy sales contracts worth $966m over the next 20 years.

Final chapter: The Babcock & Wilcox company has exited from Chapter 11 bankruptcy and has made an initial $350m payment to the asbestos claimants’ trust.

Fully fuelled: The world’s largest uranium producer Cameco Corporation has purchased the Canadian nuclear fuel manufacturer Zircatec Precision for $108m.

GE filters: The UK based inlet filtration company, Altair Filter Technology, has been acquired by GE Energy as it aims to provide more complete pre-combustion air quality solutions.

LOOS change: Boiler manufacturer Henschel has handed over its worldwide service responsibilities to LOOS, which will now meet the German company’s customers’ needs for servicing, maintenance, upgrading, repairs and spare parts supply.

Midland write-down: CMS Energy has reported a net loss of $94m for 2005, compared to a net income of $110m the previous year, largely due to an after-tax impairment charge in the company’s interest in the Midland Cogeneration Venture.

New PV technology: Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has developed a photovoltaic cell technology that achieves 50 per cent higher maximum output than the company’s conventional amorphous silicon PV modules.