Report: Japan's TEPCO set for $13 billion government bailout

Tokyo, January 26, 2012 — Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator and owner of the disaster-stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, will be taken over by the Japanese government in a bailout of nearly $13 billion, according to newspaper reports.

The sum of $12.8 billion in public funding would essentially nationalize TEPCO, a utility that provides power to about 45 million people, including the city of Tokyo.

Since the March tsunami and earthquake that swamped the plant and caused radiation leakage, TEPCO has found itself on the hook for billions in liabilities and compensation for the damage, as well as cleanup costs. The Fukushima disaster is the worst since Chernobyl, and has resulted in countries all around the world taking a second look at their nuclear energy plans — including Germany, which decided to cancel future reactors.

This bailout could result in roughly two-thirds public ownership for TEPCO, enabling the Japanese government to control management.

The bailout plan would reportedly put the utility back into private control within about six or seven years. Some reports said the company might not be independent again until a decade or more.

TEPCO shareholders will need to approve an increase in its authorized share capital at an annual meeting in June before the nationalization plan could go ahead.

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