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Toshiba has sold its U.S. nuclear power business, Westinghouse, for US$4.6 billion to a group of investment companies led by Brookfield Asset Management. The deal puts an end to a major headache for the Japanese conglomerate, which last year warned that it might have trouble surviving if it didn’t find a buyer for the nuclear power plant constructor, which it acquired in 2006 for US$5 billion.
Plagued by project delays and cost overruns that came up to US$6 billion for two large-scale projects in the United States, Westinghouse filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last March. The business had by that time generated US$6.3 billion in writedowns for the parent company that resulted in Toshiba reporting a net loss of US$9.1 billion for 2016.
The reasons for Westinghouse’s demise were numerous, not least among them the abundance of cheap gas thanks to shale development that weighed on demand for new nuclear power generation capacity, as well as a slowdown in U.S. demand for energy versus expectations of an increase.
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When the company filed for bankruptcy protection, there were expectations that a Chinese company would snap it up, as China is spending billions on new nuclear capacity to meet booming energy demand that fossil fuels and renewable energy cannot keep up with. Yet a Chinese offer never materialized, with observers at the time citing as reasons the White House’s suspicious stand on China in general and Toshiba’s very likely unwillingness to sell Westinghouse to its biggest local rival.
Brookfield Asset Management is a Canadian company with assets of $15.9 billion and an investment focus on energy, construction, and industrial businesses. The company, which is buying Westinghouse through its private equity unit Brookfield Business Partners, will fund the deal with $3 billion in debt and $1 billion in stocks, and it will also assume Westinghouse’s pension and environmental commitments.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.