A company here that is partly owned by the Chinese government has quietly purchased a 5.1 per cent stake in the only American-owned provider of enriched uranium for use in civilian nuclear reactors.
The company that bought the stake, the Noble Group, is the world’s second-largest commodities trading and logistics company after Cargill and is based here. One of its minority owners is the Chinese government’s sovereign wealth fund.
The American company is USEC, which is based in Bethesda and enriches uranium so that fission can occur in nuclear reactors. It currently supplies enriched uranium for use in the United States, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.
Noble said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it had purchased the shares on the open market from May 25 to June 2.
Noble wants to become USEC’s partner in marketing uranium enrichment for reactors in Asia, particularly mainland China, according to Richard Elman, Noble’s founder and executive chairman.