The UK chancellor Gordon Brown hinted in March 22's budget that the government is considering a partial sale of the nuclear power generator British Energy.

The Budget contained an admission that the government is reviewing its options for the 65% majority holding that it has in British Energy. A final decision is likely to be made following the energy review, to be completed later in the year.

To further diversify risk and after the energy review has reported, we are prepared to sell part of our stake in British Energy and related energy assets, Mr Brown told parliament.

There were no further details on how much of the holding might be sold. The government was forced to bail out the stricken company in 2002 after collapsing power prices brought it close to bankruptcy, but since then a rebound in the wholesale electricity market has triggered a surge in British Energy’s share price.