EDF Energy attempts take over of UK nuclear plants

The giant French-based utility EDF has made a takeover offer for the UK's nuclear power firm British Energy.

British Energy invited offers from interested buyers and set a deadline of Friday for them to table bids.

EDF submitted a proposal to British Energy's board on Friday morning but has not disclosed the price. undefined undefined

British Energy shares fell by more than 2% on Friday to 700 pence amid speculation that the EDF offer may be below that level.

British Energy shares have risen almost 40% since it emerged in March that British Energy's board was considering a break-up or a sale.

A number of companies other than EDF had shown an interest in bidding for British Energy, including Germany's RWE, Spain's Iberdrola and British Gas owner Centrica. British Energy has eight nuclear power stations generating about 20% of the UK's electricity.

What makes the firm attractive is that the British government has given the green light for the building of a new generation of nuclear power plants, and British Energy's sites are considered prime locations for the developments.

The government owns a 35% stake in British Energy and has indicated that it is prepared to sell at the right price. It has also made it clear that it does not regard the nationality of a company making an offer for the taxpayer's holding in British Energy as an important issue.

EDF is 84% owned by the French government. It operates 58 nuclear power stations in France and has already submitted the design of the plants it wants to build in Britain for regulatory approval.

If EDF is successful in its bid for British Energy, it looks set to play a key role in funding and developing the new generation of nuclear power stations, which the government considers essential for the UK's future energy security.

Even so, both Centrica and the German-based E.On remain keen to develop new nuclear power plants in Britain.