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Updated: 09/09/2014

Hitachi Eyes London as Future Base of Nuclear Business

(The Telegraph)  

Hitachi could move the headquarters of its nuclear operations to the UK from Japan to take advantage of London's status as Europe’s financial hub and cement its commitment to building a new generation of power plants in Britain, its chief executive has disclosed.

Hiroaki Nakanishi, who is also the chairman of the IT to machinery giant, described the British capital as a "very good place for looking over the global market" and an ideal location to base some of its more "sophisticated" technologies, such as nuclear energy.

"The UK is the best place to gather all of our information, because [London] is the 'real' economic centre, especially for the finance industry. English is also our most familiar foreign language, and we already have some networks here,” he said.

Hitachi announced it was moving its global rail headquarters to London from Tokyo this year after winning a £1.2bn deal to build a new fleet of inter-city trains. MPs said the move represented a “huge vote of confidence” in Britain.

Hitachi bought the UK rights to build the next generation of nuclear power plants in 2012, and plans to build a new plant in Wylfa Newydd on the island of Anglesey that will create 6,000 jobs.

“When we announced the rail deal, [Prime Minister David] Cameron said you are our customer, but for me, Mr. Cameron is an important customer,” Mr. Nakanishi said.

While Mr. Nakanishi said he was confident Hitachi would secure planning permission for Wylfa, he said any decision to move its nuclear headquarters would take several years as the final go-ahead was unlikely to be granted until 2018, while construction will not start until 2024. However, he said Britain’s "very stable business environment" made it an attractive place for Hitachi to base itself.

“Britain is a very mature market. Even when politics change, policies don’t. In the case of the Intercity Express Program … we got the preferred bidder position when the Labour Party was in charge, but the change to the Conservatives did not change the policies. In Japan, such a big change of the authority would mean everything would change.”

Mr. Nakanishi also repeated a warning that while Hitachi wanted to build trains in Britain and export them to the rest of Europe, it would find “big difficulties” in doing so if the country left the European Union.

Mr. Nakanashi also said Japan’s government should think twice before raising the consumption tax further after April’s rise from 5pc to 8pc contributed to a 7.1pc annualized decline in growth in the second quarter.

Asked if the government should continue with its plan to increase the tax to 10pc next October, he said: “Two months ago my opinion was clear, we should do it. But right now many people are worried about what the effect of the further two percentage point increase will be. For our operations, it will be no problem, but other business are having very serious discussions with the Keidanren [Japan's business federation] about it."

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