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Fukushima Cleanup Talks Put Tepco Survival Risk in Focus

Tokyo Electric Power Co. is still struggling to put the Fukushima nuclear disaster behind it, admitting this week that paying for decommissioning the plant in one go risks leaving it insolvent.

The cost to insure debt in Japan’s biggest utility climbed to a seven-month high of 89 basis points on Oct. 5 after President Naomi Hirose said after a meeting in Tokyo with a government commission that the company is asking for help in avoiding financial ruin. Tepco has already received state aid for compensation and decontamination.

The March 2011 nuclear accident and its fallout will ultimately cost more than 11 trillion yen ($106 billion), according to a study by academics including Kenichi Oshima, a professor of economics at Ritsumeikan University. Tepco has estimated that decommissioning alone will cost about 2 trillion yen. Investors should hold off buying bonds of other utilities until there is more clarity on how the government will close the Fukushima plant, according to BNP Paribas SA.

Now is not the best time to be investing in electricity utility bonds, with discussions going on about nuclear plant decommissioning, and the potential for spreads to widen,” said Mana Nakazora, chief credit analyst at BNP Paribas in Tokyo. Even so, she added, “the government has little choice but to take measures to avoid a default by Tokyo Electric.”


While Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government has committed to provide up to 9 trillion yen for compensation to individuals and business hurt by the Fukushima disaster and for decontaminating areas affected, that figure doesn’t include decommissioning of the nuclear plant itself, according to a report by Moody’s Investors Service last month.

Scrapping the Fukushima reactors may take 30 years to 40 years, and Tokyo Electric will only start removing debris from the plant from in 2021, a decade after the incident, according to the utility’s road map for dealing with the remnants of the disaster.

In speaking to reporters, Tepco President Hirose was probably making a public case for more government support, according to Yutaka Ban, the chief credit analyst at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc. in Tokyo. Ban said he saw little probability that support will be withheld.

Things will likely settle down” after the government adopts the new measures, said Ban. “Without government support, the costs would be extremely high.”

For a Bloomberg Intelligence report on Asia-Pacific utilities, click here.

Tepco’s credit-default swaps have come down from as high as 1,762 basis points in October 2011, according to data provider CMA. The utility has said it plans to return to the bond market by the end of the fiscal year to March 2017. Jun Oshima, a spokesman for Tokyo Electric, said that plan is still in place. It stopped issuing notes after the Fukushima disaster.

The extra yield on Tepco’s 1.155 percent bonds due in 2020 was 64 basis points more than sovereign debt, the lowest since before the Fukushima disaster, according to Bloomberg-compiled prices. The spread on Osaka-based Kansai Electric Power Co.’s 0.976 percent notes due in 2020 was 39 basis points.

Tokyo Electric has a Ba3 rating from Moody’s and BB- score from S&P Global Ratings, both three levels below investment grade.

Decommissioning is currently the biggest unknown, and clarity matters in terms of credit,” said Mariko Semetko, a Moody’s analyst in Tokyo. “The lack of clarity there has been holding back the credit quality.”

October 7, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Tepco Threatens To Declare Bankruptcy; Dismantling Unit 1


Calls grow to curb further govt. support to TEPCO
Members of a panel looking at how to cover costs from the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi accident say government support to the operator should be limited.
Economic leaders and academic experts attended the first meeting on Wednesday of a committee set up by the industry ministry to discuss decommissioning and compensation costs.
Officials said the government has earmarked about 87 billion dollars for compensation and decontamination work, and that operator Tokyo Electric Power Company has set aside about 19 billion dollars to scrap the crippled reactors.
But they said these funds could fall well short of the amount that will be needed.
Many participants said the utility must bear the increased financial burden through business restructuring and management reforms to curb additional government support.
TEPCO President Naomi Hirose, who took part in the meeting as an observer, warned that his company could become insolvent if it is forced to post the ballooning decommissioning costs as a debt.
He argued that a special accounting rule should be created to avoid a possible insolvency.
Before the next meeting is held, the government plans to show how much the cost of decommissioning the reactors is projected to grow.
Hirose told reporters after the meeting that his company should be the first to foot the bill, and that the firm will consider what should be done to absorb the cost.

October 6, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Tepco Falls After President Highlights Fukushima Cost Risk

naomi hirose.jpg

Japan utility declines 3.3% to settle at lowest in two weeks

Company seeks government help to eliminate insolvency risk

Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc. closed at the lowest in more than two weeks after its president said it may face insolvency if it recognized at one time the cost of decommissioning the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant and that it’s asked the government to help eliminate the risk.

Tepco, as the company is better known, fell as much as 7.9 percent during intraday trading and closed 3.3 percent lower at 414 yen a share in Tokyo, the lowest since Sept. 16. The benchmark Topix index rose 0.6 percent.

As it becomes possible to estimate the Fukushima decommissioning cost, we will have the problem of recognizing the liability at once. That means there is a possibility Tepco becomes insolvent,” President Naomi Hirose told reporters in Tokyo Wednesday after meeting with a Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry commission charged with reforming the company. “We are requesting institutional measures to remove such risk.”

As of June, nearly 1 trillion yen ($9.7 billion) has been allocated to decommissioning and water treatment at Fukushima, Tepco spokesman Tatsuhiro Yamagishi said last month.

The March 2011 nuclear accident and its fallout will ultimately cost more than 11 trillion yen, according to a study by Japanese college professors including Kenichi Oshima, a professor of economics at Ritsumeikan University.

October 5, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment