French energy company EDF has agreed to buy British Energy, which operates eight nuclear power plants in the UK. The deal is worth 12.5 billion pounds sterling or close to 16 billion euros.
British Gas owner Centrica is considering taking a quarter of the power generated by the company once it is under French control, as well as a 25% stake in all the new nuclear plants it builds.
EDF says it has offered to pay 774 pence per British Energy share. That is nine pence more per share than a previous bid which was rejected.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown has welcomed the news, saying it is “good value for the taxpayer” and a “significant step towards the construction of a new generation of nuclear stations”.
He wants to replace older plants and cut carbon-dioxide emissions. But it is not likely to receive universal approval.
It will be criticised as handing Britain’s nuclear future to a company owned by France.