More News

Silex Abandons Negotiations For GE Hitachi's Stake In GLE

By Christina Haley O'Neal, posted Jul 3, 2018
Australia-based Silex Systems Limited has decided against a potential majority stake in Global Laser Enrichment LLC, a subsidiary of Wilmington-based GE Hitachi Global Nuclear Energy.

In a statement from Silex’s board to its shareholders, Silex officials said that despite being in an advanced stage of negotiations with GE Hitachi about Silex’s potential acquisition of GE Hitachi’s 76 percent interest in Global Laser Enrichment (GLE), the board decided that there "remained too many risks associated with GLE’s business case, and that the investment in GLE and the ongoing expenditure that this would entail would not be in the best interests of shareholders.”

In February 2017, GE Hitachi and Silex officials announced that GLE -- a company launched in 2006 to develop uranium enrichment services capability -- could change ownership and was working on formal agreement documentation that would potentially result in the sale of GE Hitachi's stake in GLE to Silex and other new investors. A restructure of GLE began in 2014.

GE Hitachi spokesman Jon Allen said in an email that GE Hitachi is “evaluating the impact of this development and will continue to work with the U.S. government and other key stakeholders to determine next steps.”

GLE is the exclusive licensee of the Silex laser enrichment technology, Silex officials said in the company's announcement June 12. The GLE business has exclusive rights to commercially develop the Silex laser isotope separation process technology under an agreement reached with Silex Systems Limited in 2006.

The company said it has given notice to GE Hitachi with respect to termination of the term sheet signed in 2016 (and as amended on Aug. 31, 2017) under which Silex held an exclusive option to acquire GE Hitachi’s equity interest in GLE. Silex’s funding obligations for GLE’s operations under that term sheet at about $440,000 per month (or $600,000 Australian dollars) ceased upon notice of termination, Silex officials said in the release.

Unless circumstances change dramatically in the short-term, Silex also intends to give notice to GLE of termination of the Silex technology license, pursuant to the “Amended and Restated Technology Commercialisation (sic) and License Agreement,” signed in 2013, Silex officials said.

“This is a very disappointing outcome for the company,” Silex CEO Michael Goldsworthy said in the release. “The SILEX technology remains one of the most exciting developments in the nuclear industry for several decades, and after 20 years of cooperative development with the U.S., was just three years from reaching a key demonstration of full-scale 24/7 operation.”

“Unfortunately, the continuing decline in the nuclear fuel markets precipitated by the tragic events of Fukushima in 2011, in combination with unresolved issues relating to the GLE restructure and the associated cash burn, has forced the board to draw a line and make this decision” he added. 

Other key issues challenging the GLE restructure and business case, which Silex was unable to resolve despite many months of interaction with key stakeholders, included the need to obtain external funding assistance to support the completion of GLE’s commercialization program currently being conducted in Wilmington, the release stated.

While progress had been made with third parties, including the U.S. Department of Energy, Silex officials said, “There was no clear path or timeline for such funding to be obtained at the time of the board’s decision.”

Issues also included project financing in connection with the first commercial project proposed for Paducah, Kentucky.

“We are particularly disappointed that so many opportunities will be lost by not being able to participate in the U.S. nuclear fuel market,” Goldsworthy said in the release. “For example, we were excited with the prospect of playing a key part in the remediation of the massive quantities of tails inventories stored at the DOE’s Paducah and Portsmouth facilities, through a pioneering laser enrichment facility, which would have created hundreds of high tech jobs in Kentucky and throughout the U.S."

“Furthermore, the opportunity to support the United States [in regaining] its leadership position in advanced nuclear technology has also been lost, and the unique ability to produce a highly flexible range of fuels for the next generation of advanced small modular reactors will now not be realized,” he added.

The news came just a week before General Electric Co., which holds the GE Power unit and its nuclear division, was removed from the Dow Jones Industrial Average. GE also announced in June the results of its strategic review, and its focus on GE's aviation, power and renewable energy units, which officials said will form a "new core of the company."

When asked about how GE's changes will impact GE Hitachi, Global Nuclear Fuel and GLE, GE officials said in an email, "Wilmington is a significant location for GE Power. There is no immediate impact expected at this site due to the GE alignment announcement."

GE Hitachi is a joint venture between General Electric and Hitachi that provides advanced nuclear technology and nuclear services for the industry, with headquarters in Wilmington.

"GE has been in the nuclear energy business for more than 60 years and GEH remains an important part of the GE Power portfolio," GE officials added.
Ico insights


Nealjohnson 12191614553

Should I Replace My Roof Before I Sell?

Neal Johnson - Network Real Estate
Mike stonestreet 300x300

Play it Safe When Planning Summer Celebrations

Mike Stonestreet - CAMS (Community Association Management Services)
Jim ellis headshot 10311631058

Create a Better User Experience with Card Sorting

Jim Ellis - Signal

Trending News

On Independence Blvd., Work To Begin Soon On 254 Apartments

Cece Nunn - Jul 17, 2018

Area Restaurants Earn Wine Spectator Recognition

Jessica Maurer - Jul 18, 2018

Ohio Company Acquires Wilmington Based Environmental Consulting Firm

Cece Nunn - Jul 19, 2018

Airport Authority Selects First Female Chair, Adds New Member

Christina Haley O'Neal - Jul 17, 2018

Local Food Delivery Services React To Uber Eats

Jessica Maurer - Jul 18, 2018

In The Current Issue

Hospital Offers Enhanced Recovery After Surgery

Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center recently started offering a new service for patients who have undergone colorectal surgery....

Pat Koballa Shifts Gears

Pat Koballa recently ended 32 years as an executive general manager with Stevenson Automotive Group to begin his new journey as an owner of...

Sharks Baseball Takes Bigger Bite

The 20th anniversary of Wilmington Sharks baseball in 2017 came with somewhat of a reboot, led by new owners and a renewed focus on improvin...

Book On Business

The 2018 WilmingtonBiz: Book on Business is an annual publication showcasing the Wilmington region as a center of business.

Order Your Copy Today!



2018 Power Breakfast - Dishing on the Restaurant Biz
2018 WilmingtonBiz Expo - Keynote Lunch with Eric Dinenberg, Rouse Properties
2017 Health Care Heroes