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After key deal, Tepco, Chubu Electric struggle with next step

Conflicting goals could throw up roadblock to further cooperation

Tepco President Naomi Hirose, left, and Chubu Electric President Satoru Katsuno, center, shake hands in Tokyo on Tuesday.

TOKYO -- Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings and Chubu Electric Power announced Tuesday a full merger of their fossil-fuel power businesses. But while Tepco hopes for a more extensive partnership as it faces colossal costs associated with its 2011 nuclear meltdown in Fukushima, Chubu Electric has reservations about stepping into the shadow of its larger, troubled partner.

The two Japanese utilities launched the 50-50 joint venture known as JERA in April 2015, combining their fuel procurement and overseas businesses. The latest agreement will place their fossil-fuel operations under JERA as well, creating an industry giant accounting for about half the electricity generated in Japan. They are expected to sign a deal in the first half of fiscal 2017, which starts next month, and complete the merger during the first half of fiscal 2019.

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