China's nuclear power developers seek investors

14:44, July 30, 2011      

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China's nuclear power developers are turning to equity investors for funding as interest rate hikes and Japan's nuclear crisis have resulted in fewer bank loans.

A subsidiary of the Hong Kong-based CLP Holdings Limited agreed with the state-owned China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding Corporation (CGNPC) to buy a 17 percent stake of its Yangjiang nuclear power plant project on Monday.

With a total investment of 70 billion yuan ($10.9 billion), the project is expected to get 11.9 billion yuan of investment from CLP Nuclear Investment Company Ltd.

Analysts say the move would somewhat ease CGNPC's financial predicament.

"As a result of the nuclear crisis in Japan and the Chinese government's monetary tightening measures, those nuclear power projects with a high liability ratio now have to sell shares to sustain construction," said Zheng Yuhui, director of the research center of the China Nuclear Energy Association.

China's nuclear power developers typically put down only 20 percent of the capital needed for a nuclear project, while bank loans and equity investment funds the rest, said Zheng.

Bank loans in China have become more costly as the central bank has raised benchmark interest rates and the reserve requirement ratio several times this year.

Moreover, the recent nuclear crisis hitting Japan has sparked safety concerns about nuclear power plants.

China has said it would suspend approvals for new plants until it can improve the industry's safety standards.

Last month, CGNPC put up for sale a 17 percent stake and another 24 percent stake of the Yangjiang project for 954 million yuan and 1.346 billion yuan respectively.

With total assets of 14.09 billion yuan and total liabilities reaching 11.3 billion yuan, the Yangjiang project has a liability ratio of 80 percent, according to information posted at the China Beijing Equity Exchange, where the shares were listed for sale.

Construction of the Yangjiang project started in 2008 and the first two generator units will go into operation around 2012.

Other Chinese nuclear power projects under construction face similar fund strains, as they demand a total fixed-asset investment of more than 70 billion yuan annually, said Zheng.

China has 27 nuclear power reactors under construction, all are planned to become operational by 2017.

Nuclear power accounted for 1.2 percent of China's total energy supply in 2007. China has planned to raise the number to 5 percent by 2020 and 10 percent by 2030.

Source: China Daily
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