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Last Updated: Monday, 3 July 2006, 11:47 GMT 12:47 UK
BNFL sees positive nuclear future
Sellafield plant in Cumbria
Renewed interest is changing the nuclear landscape
State-owned British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) saw pre-tax, post-exceptional annual profits for the year ending 30 March fall to £153m ($282m) from £206m.

But it said the outlook for nuclear services and generation was much improved, as its three main operating businesses come under new ownership.

BNFL operates 18 sites including the Sellafield nuclear waste reprocessing plant in Cumbria.

Nuclear energy is being increasingly promoted as an alternative to oil.

Prime minister Tony Blair is thought to support nuclear power after he said the issue was "back on the agenda with a vengeance".

The government launched an energy review in November 2005, which will include looking at the option of new nuclear power stations.

Meanwhile, the BNFL figures showed that after stripping out exceptional costs, including the £29m used to close the firm's corporate centre, underlying profits rose by 23% to £208m.

Sell-off date

BNFL Group Chairman Gordon Campbell said: "We have made substantial progress in repositioning BNFL into the private sector, which is in line with the board and shareholder wishes."

However BNFL's decision to sell different parts of its business has been controversial.

Many critics say the firm is disposing of valuable assets just as demand for nuclear power could increase.

Japan's Toshiba bought Westinghouse, the US power plant arm of BNFL for $5.4bn in February.

The same month saw BNFL sell its US nuclear clean-up unit for £51m to Utah-based Energy Solutions.

The government gave BNFL the go-ahead in March to sell British Nuclear Group (BNG), which is expected to be completed by late 2007.

BNFL said the sale of BNG, which is being conducted with Britain's Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), its largest customer, was expected to start around April 2007.

The BNFL earnings statement came as BNG, which runs 14 UK sites under contract to the NDA, posted profits of £72m in its first year.




SEE ALSO
Nuclear clean-up 'to cost £70bn'
30 Mar 06 |  Business
Toshiba buys BNFL firm for $5.4bn
06 Feb 06 |  Business
BNFL set to sell power plant arm
26 Jan 06 |  Business

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