Netherlands to sell Urenco stake

24 May 2013

The Dutch government has confirmed its intention to sell its one-third stake in Urenco, clearing the way for thepossible full privatization of the world's second-largest uranium enrichment company.

Urenco shares are held one-third by the UK government, one-third by the Dutch government and one-third by the German utilities RWE and EOn. The British government announced in April that it will proceed with the sale of its stake in Urenco. The German utilities have also said that they plan to sell their stake in company following Germany's decision to phase out the use of nuclear energy.

In a letter to the Dutch parliament, finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem has now said that the Netherlands will also seek to sell its stake in Urenco. However, he stressed that such a sale could only happen "when the public interests in non-proliferation, nuclear safety and security of supply are secured."

Dijsselbloem said that the government's decision to divest its stake was prompted by "expected changes in the shareholding of the company." Any sale by the UK or German stakeholders to private parties, he said, would mean that public shareholders would no longer hold a majority of Urenco. The Dutch government believes this would be "very undesirable," Dijsselbloem said.

He noted that the Netherlands would be willing to consider a sale of its stake if government's retain control over key aspects of Urenco's business. The current stakeholders are now designing a set of security mechanisms to ensure the public interest is preserved under any private ownership arrangement.

The minister noted that Holland's announcement of its intention to sell its stake "is an important signal to potential buyers that the shareholders in Urenco intend to offer 100% of its shares on the market." The government is now working with the other shareholders to prepare for the sale of Urenco.

The Dutch government said that further details of the nature and timing of the sale would be released in the coming months. It expects "positive interest in the sale."

As one of only a handful of companies in the world that enriches uranium for use in reactor fuel, Urenco commands a 31% share of the global market. The company is regulated by the 1971 Treaty of Almelo to consolidate and commercialise centrifuge enrichment research by the three countries, whose governments still control it through shareholding executives.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News