Earnings up at Urenco despite fall in demand

URENCO, the world’s second largest producer of enriched uranium, has recorded half-year sales and earnings growth, despite its market slowing down.

The Buckinghamshire-based firm, which employs around 300 people at an enrichment plant in Capenhurst near Chester, said demand for nuclear fuel has reduced following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan.

Nonetheless, revenue in the six months to June grew by 36% to £417m, partly due to the timing of deliveries. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation were up by 19% to £302m and the business is paying a full year dividend of £270m.

Three countries hold equal stakes in the security-sensitive uranium enrichment concern – Britain, the Netherlands and Germany, whose share is held by utilities E.ON and RWE.

Britain has been pushing for a sale in the hope of raising around £3bn but the plan stalled in December following opposition from Holland. With a market share of 31%, Urenco is the world’s second-largest uranium enrichment firm after Russia’s Tenex. Urenco enriches uranium into nuclear fuel sold to power stations in Europe, the United States and Asia.

Chief executive Helmut Engelbrecht said: “Alongside other major organisations in the nuclear sector we continue to experience challenging market conditions. The impact from the uncertainty surrounding the timing of reactor re-starts in Japan has reduced demand for nuclear fuel, increased worldwide inventories and has led to a slowdown of growth in the global enrichment market.

“Throughout we continue to deliver value to our shareholders and the directors have recommended a final dividend of €340m (£270m) for 2013 payable in 2014. We are confident that the global nuclear industry will continue to grow over the next 25 years and URENCO will remain a trusted partner to its worldwide customers.”