Rolls-Royce is selling the vast bulk of its civil nuclear business, dealing a new blow to efforts to rebuild Britain’s atomic power industry. The FTSE 100 engineer has hired consultants from KPMG to find a buyer for the nuclear division, which could fetch up to £200m. The move marks the end of an era for the country’s premier engineering company, which has more than 50 years’ expertise in nuclear power but is being slimmed down by chief executive Warren East to focus on jet engines, power generators and defence. The nuclear business makes instruments and controls to monitor radiation and temperature and prevent reactors overheating. Its equipment is installed in more than 200 reactors around the world, and it has a big presence in France, where it works with the state-backed engineering firm Orano. Rolls-Royce’s retreat from civil nuclear work reflects the industry’s broader problems. Plans for new power stations in Britain have been left in tatters after the Japanese industrial giants Toshiba and Hitachi withdrew, leaving just Hinkley Point in Somerset under way. The Japanese exit has triggered an inquiry by the Commons business committee into future investment in energy infrastructure. The sale will not include Rolls-Royce’s work on Hinkley Point, which is ringfenced, the company’s project to develop small reactors or its nuclear submarine reactor business. Rolls-Royce has been in talks to install its equipment at a plant in Essex planned by China General Nuclear, to help assuage security concerns. This work is likely to be transferred to the new owner. Sources said the business, which has more than 1,000 staff, was likely to go to a trade buyer. A Chinese deal is unlikely.
Times 3rd March 2019 read more »