Lexus has sold the UK to China, says head of UK operations

LONDON (Reuters) – Lexus Group, the maker of luxury sedans, has agreed to sell its UK unit to China’s State Grid, a group that owns the entire British nuclear fleet, the British automaker said on Wednesday.

The deal, worth about £2.1 billion ($3.2 billion), comes as U.S. automakers including GM and Ford have started exploring ways to export parts of their production lines to China.

The company also announced a £1 billion deal to sell the UK arm of its U.K. operation to China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), which holds the British nuclear license.CNNC, which is also known as China General Nuclear Power Corp, has been investing in renewable energy and plans to expand its fleet, Lexus said.

The sale, made through an equity sale and by private equity firm Linton Partners, would also mark the first time that a company in Britain has sold its U-shaped plant in a deal valued at more than £10 billion.

“This is a strategic investment for Lexus, which will strengthen its position as the UK’s leading manufacturer of electric vehicles,” the company said in a statement.

Lexus, based in Woking, Kent, employs about 100 people and is based in the UK since 1963.

The automaker will continue to operate in the country, which has become a key trading partner of the United States in the nuclear power sector.

The U.N. nuclear watchdog has said that it would consider lifting the nuclear license of the UK nuclear station until 2022.CNNc is in talks to buy the UK operations of its two reactors, in Portsmouth and Bournemouth, as well as its nuclear fuel fabrication plant in Leeds.

The two companies have been working on the deal since 2015.

(Reporting by Paul Carrel in London; Editing by David Stamp)