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USEC Nuclear Fuel Co: Toshiba, Babcock & Wilcox To Invest $200 Million

SAN FRANCISCO -(Dow Jones)- U.S. nuclear fuel maker USEC Inc. (USU) said Tuesday that Japanese conglomerate Toshiba Corp. (TOSYY, 6502.TO) and McDermott International Inc. (MDR) unit Babcock & Wilcox Co. have agreed to invest $200 million in USEC. Toshiba and Babcock & Wilcox--which both have nuclear power divisions--will invest $100 million each in USEC over three phases, subject to regulatory approvals and other conditions, USEC said. The investment will help USEC as it revises an application to the U.S. Department of Energy for a $2 billion loan guarantee to build a uranium enrichment facility in Ohio, called the American Centrifuge Plant, the company said. "In preparation for updating our Department of Energy loan guarantee application to finance the American Centrifuge, we have worked hard to successfully demonstrate the American Centrifuge uranium enrichment technology and, as indicated by today's announcement, to improve the financial foundation for the project and the company," USEC President and Chief Executive John Welch said in a statement. Welch added that in addition to the funding, USEC will benefit from the investor companies' "vast technical knowledge and experience across the nuclear fuel cycle." In return for their investment, Toshiba and Babcock & Wilcox will receive convertible preferred stock and warrants to buy shares of common stock that can be exercised in the future, USEC said. "We have decided to make this investment in American know-how and American technology in order to produce more uranium fuel for the growing worldwide nuclear power market with high confidence in USEC as a leading supplier of low enriched uranium," Yasuharu Igarashi, a corporate senior vice president at Toshiba, said in a statement. USEC, of Bethesda, Md., said it plans to revise, or update, its DOE loan guarantee application "sometime this summer." In July, the DOE encouraged USEC to devote between 12 and 18 months on additional research and testing to resolve what it said were "technology issues" with the company's proposed enrichment plant. On Thursday, the DOE said it approved a $2 billion loan guarantee for USEC rival Areva S.A. (ARVCY, CEI.FR) of France, to build a $3.3 billion nuclear enrichment facility in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Areva plans to use an advanced centrifuge technology that is not as commonly used in the U.S., but has been used in France for 30 years. The DOE said an additional $2 billion is available to support uranium enrichment technology. The loan guarantee is part of a broader effort by the Obama administration to stimulate the development of a U.S. supply base for enriched uranium, to serve existing and new nuclear power plants. Shares of USEC closed up 24.1% at $5.26 Tuesday but were not active in after-hours trading. -By Cassandra Sweet, Dow Jones Newswires; 415-439-6468;

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