GE, Toshiba and Hitachi have a long standing joint venture called Global Nuclear Fuel that is headquartered in Wilmington, North Carolina. Toshiba’s recent purchase of Westinghouse, GE’s arch nemesis in the electric power business is causing GE to reevaluate its partnership arrangements.
:NOTE: The rivalry between General Electric and Westinghouse dates back more than 100 years to the time of Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse. The initial battle was the great AC/DC battle, in the nuclear world it has been the P’s versus the B’s – as in Pressurized Water Reactors (PWR) and Boiling Water Reactors (BWR). So far, Westinghouse’s P’s are winning with about 2/3 of the total installed base of nuclear power plants.
There is no current plan to dissolve the GNF partnership, but GE is concerned about a possible conflict of interest on Toshiba’s part that could limit the growth of GNF. GE’s Andy White also expressed some disappointment in his company’s failure to win in the bidding competition for Westinghouse. As he told MarketWatch in an article titled GE to redefine Toshiba pact post-Westinghouse:
“Strategically, it was a great fit for us that would allow us to be in pressurized water reactors as well as boiling water reactors, and would have given us a global footprint,” he said.
GE is now evaluating options that include a partial purchase of Westinghouse (Toshiba has previously indicated that it might sell up to 49% of the company), a purchase of a different pressurized water manufacturer, or it might even decide to enter the PWR market with internal resources. Stay tuned for more developments; GE has a reputation for hating to lose.