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Non-Utilities May Invest in Seabrook Plant

Associated Press

The joint owners of the Seabrook nuclear plant said Tuesday that new investors--which are not utility companies--have been found to buy shares of the plant from utilities forced to withhold or stop payments on the project.

George Edwards, chairman of a task force working on the plant’s persistent economic problems, told the 16 utility owners at the plant that the willingness of the investors to step in “virtually assures” that Seabrook will be finished.

Several of the utility owners--those in Maine and Vermont--are under regulatory orders to get out of Seabrook. Some have been trying to sell shares but have not been able to find buyers.

Edwards, president and chief executive of Connecticut’s United Illuminating Co., said the new investors, whom he would not identify, were found by Merrill Lynch Capital Markets, investment counselor to the owners.

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Robert Hildreth, a spokesman for Merrill Lynch, said late Tuesday that the new investors are not utilities and would replace current investors who want to get out or have been ordered to get out.

Substantial Ownership Shares

He declined to say who the investors are or where they are located other than “they are institutions that we’ve been talking with for several months that have shown an interest in purchasing portions of Seabrook. . . . They are not utility companies.”

The owners also announced that five of the utilities have volunteered to advance construction payments to prevent a shortfall because of Fitchburg Gas & Electric’s three missed payments.

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“With this safety net in place, the project management team can get on with the job of finishing construction knowing that adequate funding is available,” Edwards said.

Merrill Lynch is also working on interim financing that would be available to any joint owner while negotiations are conducted for the sale of its share of the project, Edwards said.


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