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TOKYO Hitachi Ltd <6501.T>, Japan's largest industrial electronics maker, is close to buying British nuclear new-build project Horizon in a deal expected to be worth more than 50 billion yen ($ 628.46 million), Japanese media said on Saturday.

Horizon, which plans to build 6 gigawatts of nuclear capacity, was put up for sale by its German owners E.ON AG and RWE AG in March, as Germany's decision to pull out of nuclear power hurt the utilities' finances.

Hitachi is expected to hold a board meeting on Tuesday to approve the deal and officially announce it later that day, both the Asahi daily newspaper and Kyodo newswire reported, citing sources familiar with the matter.

Officials at the Japanese engineering firm were not immediately available to comment on the report.

On Thursday, a RWE official said the firm was in advanced talks to sell Horizon, after a German newspaper reported that a consortium led by Hitachi was the front runner for the Gloucester-based venture which owns two nuclear sites, at Oldbury near Bristol and Wylfa on Anglesey.

Hitachi, along with Canadian counterparty SNC-Lavalin , and Westinghouse plus its parent company Toshiba Corp <6502.T>, have both made bids for Horizon, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said earlier this month.

In early October, France's Areva dropped out of the race to buy Horizon after earlier announcing it was bidding with China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding.

The British government plans huge growth in its nuclear industry, with new power stations expected to come on line by 2025 to replace ageing plants, but it has faced various stumbling blocks, including the Fukushima nuclear crisis delaying licensing and making projects more costly.

Hitachi, which has two nuclear power joint ventures with U.S.-based General Electric Co and earns just under 10 percent of revenues from its power systems segment, is slated to release financial results on Tuesday.

($ 1 = 79.5600 Japanese yen) ($ 1 = 0.6212 British pounds)

(Reporting by James Topham)

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