Babcock International last week agreed to buy the full commercial arm of the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA)—a UK government body that provides nuclear decommissioning, waste management, and new nuclear build support services—for £50 million.

The sale follows the government’s announcement in March this year that the UK Atomic Energy Authority was seeking a buyer for UKAEA Ltd. Its decision to withdraw from the clean-up side of its nuclear sector marked a departure from policies to keep decommissioning and waste management services state-owned.

“The sale of the business will help to reinforce the UK’s strong heritage in the nuclear industry and provide a platform for the further development of skills in this important marketplace,” the government said in a press release on Friday. 

“The new ownership structure will help give UKAEA Limited greater commercial focus on its operations, allowing it to capitalise on its core skills, strong track record and brand and I am confident that it will continue its growth in the UK and internationally under Babcock International’s ownership,” said Business Secretary Peter Mandelson.

UK firm Babcock International is already a major supplier of nuclear engineering and support services in the UK, including managing and maintaining the UK’s nuclear submarine bases. In addition, it provides engineering skills and services across a range of sectors and operates extensively in the UK, as well as in Africa, Canada, and Australia. 

The entity was one of the few remaining nuclear assets owned by the UK government after  Electricité de France (EDF) bought British Energy for £12.5 billion. In related news, the French group was reportedly looking to sell 20% of its stake in that company to pay off a debt of €25 billion, which was accrued after its purchase of British Energy and half of Constellation Energy in the U.S. EDF had previously offloaded a 20% stake in British Energy to the UK firm Centrica.

EDF has also put up for sale its €3 billion distribution business in the UK. French newspaper La Tribune reported that the funds could also be used to build four planned nuclear plants in the UK and elsewhere.

Sources: UK Atomic Energy Authority, The Guardian, La Tribune