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Toshiba Says Kazakhstan May Invest in Westinghouse

Japan's Toshiba is in talks to sell 10% of its stake in nuclear power unit Westinghouse to Kazakh state firm Kazatomprom, a Toshiba source.

Kazatomprom could buy the stake for roughly 60 billion yen ($488 million), and Toshiba hopes the deal would also secure a steady supply of uranium from Kazakhstan, the source said.

Energy-hungry Japan relies on nuclear power for over 25% of its electricity, and imports some 60% of its uranium from Australia and Canada. It is seeking new sources of uranium amid rising prices and shortages, and hopes to strengthen its ties with Kazakhstan, home to a fifth of global uranium reserves.

Toshiba, Japan's second-largest maker of industrial electronics, took a 77% stake in Westinghouse, the U.S. power plant unit of British Nuclear Fuels, for $4.16 billion late last year. The stake was much larger than initially planned, after Japanese trading house Marubeni decided not to invest in the project, and Toshiba has since been looking for new investors to share the financial burden.

Earlier this year, Toshiba was in talks with Japanese trading house Sumitomo to buy a 5% stake in Westinghouse, but the two sides were unable to come to an agreement and ended talks at the end of June, the source said.

Toshiba spokesman Keisuke Ohmori said Toshiba and Kazakhstan were negotiating for Kazatomprom to invest in Westinghouse, but declined to comment on the details.

Toshiba hopes to win more orders to build nuclear reactors amid fears of global warming and rising prices of natural gas and oil. It competes against Japanese rivals Hitachi, which has fused its nuclear unit with General Electric (the parent company of CNBC), and against Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which has partnered with France's Areva.

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