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GE Hitachi Could Sell GLE Business Venture

By Christina Haley O'Neal, posted May 7, 2020
Two companies seeking to jointly purchase GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy’s Global Laser Enrichment venture could get approvals for the business restructure by the end of the year, according to a recent company update.

Silex Systems Limited and Cameco Corp. signed a binding purchase agreement in December for the restructure of the SILEX technology licensee, Global Laser Enrichment (GLE), involving the joint purchase of GE Hitachi’s 76% interest in GLE, according to a May 4 Silex investor presentation.

Since 2016, GE Hitachi has wanted to reduce its equity interest in GLE, which has a Test Loop facility at GE Hitachi's headquarters site in Wilmington.

The agreement terms include, among others, deferred annual purchase payments to GE Hitachi totaling $20 million -- consisting of four annual payments of $5 million -- triggered after the first year GLE generates $50 million in revenues (Silex’s pro-rata share totaling about $13.4 million), according to an investor release about the agreement in December.

The agreement also includes a site lease that would support continued GLE activities at the Wilmington facility for three years, with options to extend. GE Hitachi would also provide various support services until GLE transitions the services on its own account. 

GLE is a business venture formed in the 2000s by General Electric (GE), Hitachi and Cameco to develop uranium enrichment services capability, according to the company website. It has exclusive rights to commercially develop the SILEX laser isotope separation process technology under an agreement reached with Silex in early 2006.

GE Hitachi still has a majority share in GLE, company officials said this week.

The restructuring measure is under review by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and is subject to obtaining approvals. Completion of the restructure would result in Silex holding 51% interest in GLE and Cameco increasing its interest from 24% to 49%, the May 4 presentation states.

In addition, Silex and Cameco also agreed on an option for Cameco to purchase (at fair market value) from Silex an additional 26% interest in GLE, potentially increasing the Cameco interest to 75% in the future, stated the report.
 
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