The headline was about nukes to get you to read about Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA investing its pension money in a hedge fund that existed to trade bolivars for dollars, during a time when that practice was illegal in Venezuela.
There was also what I called a “Fox News-ready post-script,” which somehow never made it to Fox News. Corrupt hedge fund manager Pancho Illarramendi had bought a bunch of shares of NuScale Power, an Oregon company developing a new form of nuclear plants. Because Illarramendi spent PDVSA money on the shares, the US government had the obligation to try and get them back into PDVSA hands.
Not so quick. Rather than give Hugo Chavez a nuclear company he didn’t particularly want, the receiver moved to sell the shares to Fluor, a US engineering company. This became even weirder when Illarramendi’s father tried to block Fluor’s purchase, supposedly so he could buy the shares himself. The court sent him packing.
The Oregonian, which has followed the NuScale story for months, says today:
NuScale Power … has completed a $30 million rescue package from the big Texas energy company Fluor Corp.
The investment takes NuScale off a financial precipice and gives Fluor a 55 percent stake in its business.
NuScale will ultimately need hundreds of millions of dollars more to bring its modular nuclear reactor to market, but the company now has a degree of financial certainty and a prominent partner to carry its technology forward…
Though prosecutors did not accuse NuScale of wrongdoing, the company lost access to its investment stream when federal authorities froze [Illarramendi’s money]. NuScale laid off most of its 100 employees last winter.
Some came back at reduced or minimum wage, Lorenzini said, keeping the company afloat while it worked its way out of the financial morass…
Fluor began loaning NuScale money last summer… a federal court in Connecticut cleared the way for Fluor to convert its loans to stock and complete its $30 million investment…
Fluor had $3.04 billion in sales to the US government last year. I am guessing that aside from being a good investment, this bailout may have been a favor to US national-security types who were probably not thrilled about the idea that a promising US nuke startup would be owned by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
And so ends one bizarre part of the PDVSA Pension Ponzi.
H/T to reader DC, whose late-evening perusal of news alerts is highly appreciated.