DAVOS, Switzerland -- Hitachi's frozen nuclear power plant project in the U.K. could be revived only if the business is nationalized by Britain, Chairman Hiroaki Nakanishi said here on Wednesday.
"Nationalization is the only path" to resuming the project, he told reporters on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum's annual meeting. Nakanishi said that a scheme under which the company would not be saddled with massive assets is necessary for construction to begin.
For the government to take a majority stake in the business to fill the funding gap left by the private sector, however, legal changes are needed, he said. This clouds the prospect of the project being revived as the tumult of Brexit leaves Theresa May's government with little political capital to push for such a change.
The chairman said that Hitachi had embarked on the project under the strict understanding that the company would be a "provider, not a utility operator," and that it always needed a partner that would operate the nuclear plant.
But he added that the investor community had lost the appetite to support the project, after watching other similar nuclear projects around the world stall.
The Japanese company said last Thursday that is was freezing the nuclear project under British subsidiary Horizon Nuclear Power. It also announced an impairment loss and related expenses of around 300 billion yen ($2.74 billion) for fiscal 2018 group earnings.
Nakanishi said that the British government had been "very supportive" in the final talks over capital and debt arrangements, but they could not come up with a plan to nationalize the plant due to the legislative requirements.
He said the decision to freeze construction was purely a commercial one.
Hiroshige Seko, Japan's minister of economy, trade and industry, also attending the forum, spoke of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries' export of nuclear power facilities to Turkey. The project backed by the Japanese government is largely expected to be withdrawn after price negotiations fell through. But Seko stressed that a conclusion has yet to be made, saying: "The Turkish government and the company are discussing feasibility issues."