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NuScale planning to go public using SPAC process: financial adviser

NuScale Power, the developer of the first US small modular reactor plant owned by engineering company Fluor, plans to go public by merging or being acquired by a special purpose acquisition company.

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Parent company Fluor has said it is exploring options to reduce its majority ownership stake and seek ways to fund the development of the company and its initial project to build an SMR plant in Idaho.

Speaking during a conference Dec. 8 on nuclear plant financing sponsored by the US Nuclear Industry Council, Guggenheim Partners' Senior Managing Director James Schaefer said NuScale is going to go public through a SPAC. Guggenheim, which NuScale hired in May to explore alternatives for the company, is managing that process, Schaefer said.

"NuScale is in the process of evaluating strategic options to raise additional capital and accelerate the commercialization of NuScale's groundbreaking small modular reactor technology. We have no update at this time," company spokesperson Diane Hughes said Dec. 8.

Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems has said it plans to build a six-unit SMR plant using 77-MW NuScale reactor modules. NuScale received design approval from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission for its 50-MW reactor module and is awaiting full certification of that design in the coming months. It plans to seek similar approval for the larger version of the reactor.

The company has held discussions with utilities in several countries about deploying SMR plants, executives have said, although no contracts have been finalized.

SPACs are public companies established without operations with a goal of acquiring or merging with private companies that can then quickly become publicly traded. They are a fast-growing category of investment on Wall Street, with an increasing number of SPACs focused on energy transition businesses.

SPACs allow public stock market investors to invest in transactions in the same way that private equity funds do. They are known as blank-check companies or shell corporations because at their inception they have no operations and no assets other than the proceeds of the SPAC's initial public offering of shares.

NuScale has raised $1.3 billion so far to fund its efforts to license the design of its SMR and establish the supply chain for fabricating the reactor modules, CFO Chris Colbert said during the same conference. The company intends to help UAMPS finance between $3.5 billion and $4 billion in costs to license and build the first plant because it is the first of a kind, he said. NuScale hopes to have government support in the financing, he added.

The US Department of Energy has provided about $500 million in funding to NuScale, Fluor has provided $600 million, and outside investors — including Japanese and South Korean companies that are part of the supply chain for the reactor — have provided the balance, Colbert said.

Fluor CFO Joseph Brennan said Dec. 2 in a conference call with analysts that the company had narrowed the options for reducing its stake in NuScale, but was not yet ready to make an announcement. "Internally, we're starting to land on where we believe that value lies. And again, we look forward to being able to communicate that very shortly," he noted.