Nuclear firm gets nod from ministry for IPO


CHINA National Nuclear Power Co has been approved by the environment ministry to sell shares to fund projects worth 173.5 billion yuan (US$27.25 billion), moving the firm a step closer to launching an IPO in Shanghai.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection said on Monday it had approved the company's plan for an initial public offering, and it's now seeking public opinion on its environmental review report.

China National Nuclear didn't give a timetable or fund-raising target for its IPO. But it said the IPO proceeds will be used to fund five projects worth 173.5 billion yuan in Fujian, Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Hainan provinces.

The approval comes at a time when China has suspended approvals of new nuclear plants in the wake of Japan's nuclear crisis that was triggered by a devastating earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

China hasn't decided when to resume approving new nuclear projects. Last week the State Council, or Cabinet, passed a nuclear safety plan which may indicate the approval ban may be ending soon because the country's nuclear plants meet national and international standards.

BOC International analyst Xu Minle said the government may lift the ban "very soon" as he cited the recent government efforts to stimulate the economy with major projects.

China National Nuclear also has to submit applications to the China Securities Regulatory Commission for its IPO. Once approved, the IPO has the potential to become the nation's biggest-ever share sale.

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