FirstFT: UK examines plan to sell nuclear stake to institutional investors

First Financial Times: The UK is looking into selling a nuclear stake to institutional investors.

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A minority stake in a new £20bn nuclear power station on England’s east coast will be sold to institutional investors or floated on the stock market under UK government plans to oust China’s CGN from the project.

Downing Street is closing in on a deal that would force state-owned CGN to give up its 20 per cent stake in the Sizewell C nuclear plant in Suffolk.

The government would hold the stake until it could be sold on to institutional investors, according to people briefed on the plans. Another option being examined would be to float the stake on the stock market through an initial public offering, the people said.

CGN’s involvement in Britain’s civil nuclear programme has come under intense scrutiny since the government banned Chinese telecoms equipment maker Huawei from its 5G mobile phone network last year. The technology group, also a target of US prosecution and sanctions, is scrambling to reinvent itself as restrictions derail its traditional business.

Do you have any feedback on FirstFT Europe/Africa? Let me know at [email protected]. As always, thanks for reading — Jennifer

Five more stories in the news

1. Global bond market set for worst month since early 2021 Bond markets have been jolted from their late-summer slumber by central bank signals that interest rate rises are drawing closer, sparking the steepest price declines since a global debt slide at the start of the year.

2. US military officials testify on Afghanistan withdrawal Two top US military officials said they believed that a few thousand troops should have remained in the country, and acknowledged other tactical and intelligence failings during the chaotic exit. Do you think Washington should have maintained a troop presence in Afghanistan? Tell us in our latest poll.

  • It’s not over: Neighbouring Tajikistan has emerged as a vocal critic of the Taliban government and a hub for Afghan resistance.

3. ‘Hidden debt’ on China’s Belt and Road tops $385bn President Xi Jinping’s hallmark foreign policy initiative has left scores of lower- and middle-income countries saddled with debts, with research suggesting that such financial liabilities have been systematically under-reported for years.

4. General Catalyst launches fund to buy tech start-ups’ future earnings One of the largest US venture capital firms has started a fund to purchase sales contracts from tech start-ups, adding to a growing roster of companies hoping to profit from the strategy.

5. Ford plans record electric pick-up truck investment Ford and battery maker SK Innovation of South Korea have committed to spending $11bn to build three plants in Kentucky and Tennessee to produce battery-powered versions of the popular F-series trucks. The investment is the largest Ford has made in manufacturing facilities in its 118-year history.

  • In other electric-vehicle news: Sir Jony Ive, former Apple designer, is teaming up with Ferrari to help the supercar maker develop its first electric vehicle.

Coronavirus digest

  • In the US, EU and UK, Covid-19 support schemes are ending without any clear sign of workers coming forward to ease the labour shortage.
  • Europeans are leaving their houses to go shopping, eat out, travel and visit cinemas as much as they did before the pandemic, in a sign of returning consumer confidence, for now.
  • Sanofi has halted development of its Covid-19 vaccine based on messenger RNA technology, acknowledging that it was too late to be useful.

Follow our coronavirus live blog and sign up to the Road to Recovery, our newsletter briefing on business and the economy in a world transformed by the pandemic.

Line chart of % change compared to average of Jan3 and Feb 6, rolling 7-day average. showing Europeans spend less time at home

The days ahead

Labour conference concludes On the last day of the gathering in the UK, attention will be focused on whether Keir Starmer can clearly articulate his vision to delegates. The opposition party leader will use his speech today to pledge axing universal credit benefits, replacing them with a new social security system, and a plan to secure jobs or training for all under-25s.

EU-US Trade and Technology Council The group will hold its first summit in Pittsburgh to discuss defending critical supply chains and technologies, such as artificial intelligence.

  • Opinion: The US and EU can find common ground by agreeing on rules for the 21st century economy, rather than allying against China, writes Rana Foroohar.

Britney Spears court hearing The American pop star’s bid to end her conservatorship will be under review again, with Judge Brenda Penny due to address several developments in the case. (Bustle)

What else we’re reading

The strange death of American democracy A constitutional crisis is looming, writes Martin Wolf. As former president Donald Trump tightens his grip on the Republican party ahead of the 2024 election, one must ensure that his naive and incompetent approach to the wielding of power will not be repeated.

Martin Wolf: ‘Neither the electoral system nor the Republican party will go back to what it was’
Martin Wolf: ‘Neither the electoral system nor the Republican party will go back to what it was’ © James Ferguson

Drinks companies worry about abstemious youth “Drink better, not more”: the industry slogan not only encourages consumers to continue trading up but resonates with efforts to reduce the problems associated with problem drinking. Now, as the world reopens, companies are seeking to combat the looming issue of alcohol sceptics, writes Brooke Masters.

Time to scrap the Irish banking pay cap? Since the eurozone’s biggest banking bailout more than a decade ago, Ireland’s three high-street banks have been obliged by law to cap top executives’ salaries at €500,000. Inside the industry, however, the message to staff is clear: shop around.

Can SenseTime become a Chinese AI champion? One of China’s brightest hopes for its plan to lead the world in artificial intelligence is preparing for a $2bn public listing in Hong Kong that may come before the end of the year. As rivals suffer from US sanctions over human rights abuses in Xinjiang, can SenseTime come out on top?

  • Conscious decoupling? Gina Raimondo, US commerce secretary, said the Biden administration would push for American companies to trade with China despite Washington’s tough posture on Beijing over human rights and security.

Time to turn off Facebook’s digital fire hose How much control does the tech giant give users over ads? The answer, despite its protestations, seems to be hardly any. Many of us have our own algorithm war stories. Sometimes they are trivial, but other times they are downright cruel.

Gaming

What do you do after you have broken records for the best-selling PC game series of all time? If you are Will Wright, creator of SimCity and The Sims, you lie low. Now, the 61-year-old is plotting his return.

Will Wright, creator of ‘SimCity’, ‘The Sims’ and a new project, ‘Proxi’
Will Wright, creator of ‘SimCity’, ‘The Sims’ and a new project, ‘Proxi’ © Ryan Anson/AFP/Getty Images

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