Brookfield Business Partners, part of Brookfield Asset Management, announced this week it would acquire the bankrupt Westinghouse Electric Company for $4.6 billion.
The purchase comes just days after Brookfield Renewable Partners closed its deal to acquire SunEdison’s TerraForm Global Inc. for $750 million. Brookfield also agreed to a controlling stake in YieldCo TerraForm Power. Along with those investments, the Westinghouse deal adds depth to Brookfield’s growing portfolio of power assets acquired at rock-bottom prices.
In a release on the Westinghouse agreement, Brookfield called Westinghouse an “iconic American company” and highlighted its “strong market position” and “attractive revenue and cash flow profile” as top-line motivations behind the sale. Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy in March, but not before pushing the only two U.S. nuclear projects under construction into peril.
South Carolina regulators canceled the V.C. Summer Plant expansion in July. But Georgia’s Public Service Commission recently approved a motion to proceed with the state’s Vogtle Nuclear Project expansion. Both projects planned to use Westinghouse’s AP1000 reactors.
Although Westinghouse’s portfolio is wide, the sale offers significant value to Brookfield because of the electric company’s unique management and engineering expertise in nuclear construction. But the company also sits at the epicenter of battles embroiling a stumbling U.S. nuclear industry.
While the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that a Brookfield spokesperson initially said the company isn’t interested in pursuing nuclear reactor projects in the U.S. or abroad, the company later said it "believes the AP1000 design and technology is core” to Westinghouse and that Brookfield will invest in global growth.
Westinghouse parent company Toshiba, however, hopes to get out of the U.S. market altogether. “We have all but completely pulled out of the nuclear business overseas,” said the company’s president, Satoshi Tsunakawa, when Westinghouse announced its bankruptcy.
Toshiba executives previously said the company would like to sell the reactor manufacturer if it could find a buyer. Earlier this month, Toshiba privately presented a restructuring plan to Westinghouse, and the nuclear manufacturer said it had reached out to over 100 potential buyers.
Before Brookfield and Westinghouse finalize the sale, they need regulatory and bankruptcy court approval. If all moves smoothly, the deal could close by Q3 2018.
The announcement from Brookfield came the same day that Dominion Energy made public its proposed $14.6 billion acquisition of Scana Corporation, the company holding a majority stake in the failed V.C. Summer project. The company’s partner, Santee Cooper, is still investigating a sale.