Toshiba Corp, Japan's biggest maker of nuclear reactors, sold a 10 percent stake in its Westing-house Electric Co unit to Kazakh-stan's state uranium-mining company, gaining access to the world's second-largest uranium reserves.
Toshiba, which bought 77 percent of Westinghouse in October for about US$4.16 billion, sold the stake to Kazatomprom for US$540 million, Almaty-based Kazatomprom said in a statement yesterday.
"New reactors to be built by Westinghouse will have a guaranteed nuclear-fuel supply," Moukhtar Dzhakishev, the head of Kazatomprom, said yesterday in Almaty. "We create a market for ourselves by buying the stake in Westinghouse."
Kazatomprom will finance the deal with its own funds, he said.
Kazakhstan, the world's third-biggest uranium miner, plans to become the largest by 2010 and increase its share of Japan's market to about a third from 1 percent now. It wants to use its reserves, which may be 20 percent of the world's total, to gain market share in all parts of the nuclear-fuel cycle, including power generation.
"The alliance of Toshiba, Kazatomprom and Westinghouse will lead to a global increase in nuclear energy production," Kazatomprom said in the statement.
"One will understand the historical significance of today's deal when we realize all the plans we have with Toshiba," Dzhakishev said, without elaborating.
Toshiba said last week it was in talks to buy a stake in a uranium mine in Kazakhstan from Japan's fifth-largest trading company, Marubeni Corp. Toshiba plans to buy 22.5 percent of the mine, located in southern Kazakhstan, for tens of billions of yen, the Nikkei Shimbun reported on Friday, without saying where it got the information.
"An investment in Westinghouse by Kazatomprom, a global leader in uranium production, will help strengthen advancement of our nuclear operations overseas," Toshiba said in a separate statement.
The company expects to complete the deal in a month.