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Last Updated: Friday, 1 June 2007, 13:53 GMT 14:53 UK
Share sale nets government 2bn
British Energy's Hunterston power station
British Energy has made a strong recovery in recent years
The UK government has raised 2.08bn from the sale of shares in nuclear power provider British Energy.

The proceeds will go toward nuclear clean-up costs, including shutting down existing nuclear power stations.

The Department of Trade and Industry sold 400 million shares at 520p each, cutting its stake in the UK's biggest energy producer from 64% to 39%.

The government had announced it was planning to reduce its stake in British Energy in the 2006 Budget.

A further 50 million shares could be sold, leaving the government with a 36% stake in the company.

The stake was first acquired in 2002 to help revive the then struggling nuclear power firm, which had been crippled by falling power prices and the introduction of a nuclear clean-up bill.

Hunterston B, Ayrshire
Torness, East Lothian
Heysham 1 and 2, Lancashire
Hinkley Point B, Somerset
Dungeness B, Kent
Sizewell B, Suffolk

Since then, British Energy has made a strong recovery on the back of rising natural gas prices, which has lifted electricity prices, despite problems at its ageing power stations.

This week the firm, which owns eight nuclear power stations and one coal-fired station in Eggborough, East Yorkshire, announced a 44% rise in underlying annual profits to 1.22bn.

Its prospects look even better after the government insisted in its Energy White Paper that nuclear power had to be an important part of the future energy mix to meet demand.

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