British Energy loses spark after a fresh blow to its nuclear operations


BRITISH Energy shares fell 4 per cent last night after the nuclear generator warned that recent inspections of its Heysham reactors might further dent its output this financial year.

Latest inspections have shown a similar problem in the Heysham 1 Reactor 2 as at those discovered in Heysham 1 Reactor 1 and Hartlepool Reactor 1. They were shut down

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over problems with the wire windings in the boiler closure units.

British Energy could not say when any of these reactors will come back online. The shares dropped 19p to 458.75p.

Meanwhile, Scottish banks continued to come under pressure on credit worries.

Royal Bank of Scotland, which was also feeling the heat to bring forward its trading update from 6 December, lost 15.25p - or 3.7 per cent - to 397.25p. HBOS shed 28p to 713p.

Other financials took a hit, with Standard Life edging towards an all-time low as UBS cut its price target on the insurer to 290p from 365p, although it upgraded the shares to "buy" from "neutral". The shares closed 13.25p lower at 232.75p, having floated last year at 230p.

On a brighter note, Ardana made gains after it announced its testosterone cream has been shown not to act as an irritant for the skin in a supplementary clinical trial. Its shares closed up 2.5p at 57.5p, a gain of 4.6 per cent.


Merger story takes wing

LUFTHANSA'S Germanwings airline and TUIfly are in talks about an alliance that could include a merger, sources familiar with the matter said yesterday.

The sources said talks were at an early stage, adding Germanwings would seek operational control in any alliance with TUIfly.

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Under the planned deal, the new merged entity would be named Germanwings and the TUIfly brand, created when TUI merged its German carriers HLX and Hapagfly, would be disappear.

Travel giant TUI Travel, which is 51 per cent owned by TUI, said in September it could sell TUIfly. TUI Travel is conducting a strategic review and is to detail its decisions by January.

Lufthansa, TUI and Germanwings declined to comment.