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Sumitomo Considers Buying a Stake in Westinghouse

Japanese trading house Sumitomo Corp. said on Tuesday it may buy a stake in U.S. nuclear power company Westinghouse from Toshiba Corp. to boost its nuclear power business.

Toshiba spokesman Keisuke Ohmori said his company was in talks with more than one company regarding its stake in Westinghouse Electric, but he declined to comment further.

A Sumitomo spokesman said nothing concrete had been decided.

The Nikkei business daily reported earlier that Sumitomo was in talks with Toshiba to buy a 5% stake in Westinghouse. Late last year Toshiba took a 77% stake in Westinghouse, the U.S.
power plant unit of British Nuclear Fuels, for $4.16 billion.

The stake was much larger than initially planned after trading house Marubeni Corp. decided not to invest in the project, and Toshiba has been looking for investors to help reduce its financial burden.

Sumitomo is considering a stake of about 5% for a cost of slightly more than 30 billion yen ($246 million) to help it expand its nuclear power business, the Nikkei reported.

If the two firms reach a deal, Sumitomo will supply uranium and plant equipment to Westinghouse clients, the Nikkei said.

U.S. engineering firm Shaw Group took a 20% stake in Westinghouse while Japan's Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries bought the remaining 3%.

Toshiba has said its stake in Westinghouse could shrink in the future as it is still negotiating with several companies to take minority stakes in the firm.