Firms jostle for nuclear work

CITY firms will soon know when they can tender for work on the nuclear generating industry sell-off following the Government's announcement to go ahead.

A host of City names are already involved in the industry, and may continue to advise their clients during privatisation. Advisers to the Government are yet to be appointed, however.

“Everything is uncertain as to who is doing what, and everyone is jockeying for position,” says a law firm insider.

Clifford Chance acts for generator Nuclear Electric, as do bankers NM Rothschild. US international bankers Morgan Stanley is currently advising on the privatisation, says an industry spokesman.

Herbert Smith, led by partner Gareth Roberts, is advising Scottish Nuclear, together with bankers Lazard Brothers.

The Government aims to form a holding company with subsidiaries formed by parts of Nuclear Electric and Scottish Nuclear intended for privatisation. A flotation on the stock market next year is hoped to raise up to £7 billion for the Treasury.

Freshfields, which acts for British Nuclear Fuels, the business responsible for reprocessing, wants to put its experience to good use by acting for a financial adviser to the deal. The firm is unlikely to act for the Government because of its current involvement in the industry, says a spokeswoman.

The report is the result of the nuclear industry review launched last May.

Details of the privatisation and a timetable are still to be worked out. A Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) spokesman says: “There will be advisers appointed. With the report out of the way, these issues will be turned to and things will happen reasonably quickly.”

The Nuclear Installations Inspectorate is re-licensing parts of the industry over the next 12-14 months, but this will not delay the appointment of advisers, says the DTI.