Japanese industrial group Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) is considering making a bid for nuclear power engineering company Westinghouse Electric.

State-owned BNFL is looking to sell the US-based company for around $1.8 billion.

MHI, which is hoping to expand its reactor business outside Japan, is said to be looking for partners to make a joint purchase, one of the largest Japanese acquisitions of recent years.

MHI has a decades-long licensing agreement with Westinghouse for pressurised water reactor technology and would be reluctant to let the company fall into the hands of a competitor.

General Electric is another major industrial player with designs on the nuclear plant developer. It makes boiling water reactors, which it has licensed to Hitachi and Toshiba.

Meanwhile, French state-owned Areva is also thought likely to make a bid for one of its major competitors.

BNFL has said that, over the last 18 months, some 15 companies have expressed an interest in buying Westinghouse.

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