British Energy has confirmed that it is in talks with a number of companies regarding the possible sale of a government-owned stake in the nuclear generator.

The company says that it is in discussions with interested parties “in the context of its future and its plans to take a pivotal role in any new nuclear build programme” that could lead to a “business combination or an offer for the company”.

The UK government owns a 35.2 per cent stake in British Energy, which generates about one-sixth of Britain’s power and which controls many of the sites on which new nuclear reactors could be built. The Financial Times reported last week that the government had asked Swiss bank UBS to gauge interest in the sale of its stake from potential buyers.

British Energy is likely to play a key role in the construction of new nuclear power plants in the UK and is currently in discussions with a number of companies over the creation of partnerships for that purpose. It is also conducting its own site and technology assessments in preparation for new plant projects.

The government recently appointed UBS to advise it on commercial and financial aspects of the country’s new nuclear build programme. The FT has reported the UK’s department for business, enterprise and regulatory reform as saying that it would “consider its position in relation to any proposal”.