Japan’s government plans to take control of Tokyo Electric Power, the operator of a stricken nuclear power plant, by injecting public funds.
But the government is unlikely to take more than a 50 per cent stake in the company, according to an unnamed government official.
The company, also known as Tepco, has come under fire for its handling of the emergency at its Fukushima Daichi nuclear complex, triggered by the 11 March earthquake and tsunami.
A series of missteps and mistakes, combined with scant signs of leadership, have further undermined confidence in the company. Poor communication has led to some heated exchanges in media conferences as journalists demanded information.
Tepco could face compensation claims topping $130bn (£81bn) if Japan’s worst nuclear crisis drags on, Bank of America-Merrill Lynch estimated this week, further fuelling expectations Japan’s government will step in to save Asia’s largest utility.
Investor concern about the future of Tokyo Electric mounted after its president, Masataka Shimizu, was admitted to hospital and the company said on Wednesday that 2 trillion yen (£14bn) in emergency loans from Japan's major banks would not cover its costs.