The nuke biz is going down like dominoes. Hitachi announces a nearly $6.2 billion loss on its U.S. uranium enrichment joint effort with GE.
Electronics giant Hitachi Ltd. is set to lose tens of billions of yen this fiscal year due to the withdrawal from a project to develop a new method of uranium enrichment by a joint venture in the United States.
The loss, forecast by Hitachi on Feb. 1, was disclosed shortly after Toshiba Corp. made a similar announcement last month of deficits brought on by its nuclear power business.
Hitachi is expected to report a 70 billion yen ($620 million) non-operating loss by the time books are closed for fiscal 2016 at the end of March, said Mitsuaki Nishiyama, a senior vice president of the Tokyo-based conglomerate, in a news conference on the company’s performance through the third quarter.
The deficit is largely attributed to the joint venture GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy Inc. withdrawing from the uranium enrichment project. Due to this decision, Hitachi no longer expects any profits from the North Carolina-based company, of which it owns 40 percent and the rest by General Electric.
After allocating the losses, the value of Hitachi’s share of the joint venture comes to only about 11 billion yen.
Despite the gloomy news, Nishiyama said that “there are no more large deficit risks.”
Hitachi and GE were expecting more nuclear power plants to be built when they launched the joint fuel enrichment business, but orders have been sluggish across the globe, forcing the project to be shelved.
Nevertheless, Hitachi will be sticking with its nuclear power business. The company said that it plans to proceed with its project to build a plant in Britain by ensuring costs are thoroughly managed.
METI proposed that TEPCO would start a subsidiary to manage all its nuclear plants. Saying it would facilitate restarting the reactors at the Kashiwazaki Kariwa NPP, as since the beginning of the Tepco-owned Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant disaster the government planned to use profits from the Tepco-owned Kashiwazaki-Kariwa NPP to finance the Fukushima Daiichi disaster costs; and that it would also encourage collaboration among other utilities nuclear power plants, and make merger or sale easier. METI thinks such change would also encourage the public to support nuclear reactors restarting.
As the total decommissionning costs could double, Tepco would also like the rules to be changed so as not take an added large loss on their books.
One day later Hitachi announced that they consider merging their nuclear business with Toshiba and Mistubishi.
These recent new developments show Japan nuclear industry on the defensive, former PM Koizumi warned the Liberal Democratic Party could lose the next election if it focuses on the nuclear power issue.
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