On Monday, Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System ("OMERS") confirmed rumours that it would back SNC-Lavalin Group Ltd.'s bid to acquire the commercial business of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. from the Canadian government. OMERS and SNC-Lavalin hope to acquire the AECL division that supplies and service nuclear reactors. The government intends to retain ownership of AECL's research and medical isotope business.
OMERS and SNC-Lavalin may be bidding against Bruce Power. Bruce Power had withdrawn a bid in January. However, OMERS Chief Executive Michael Nobrega hinted that Bruce Power was back at the table as the only other bidder. Interestingly, OMERS is also a shareholder of Bruce Power.
AECL's commercial business has been for sale since 2009. Moving forward with a deal could significantly restore confidence in the future of AECL's Candu reactor technology.
Ontario Minister of Energy Brad Duguid is among those hoping that the deal is a success. Once AECL's future is more certain, he intends to revive the procurement of 2,000 MW of new nuclear generation at Darlington. "We're looking forward to sitting down with whomever that new proponent will be and hammering out a deal to purchase new reactors for Ontario at a price that's fair to Ontario consumers," said Minister Duguid according to The Globe and Mail. The procurement of new nukes was suspended in 2009, in part because then-Minister of Energy George Smitherman felt that AECL's bid was "many billions" too high.