Berkman withdraws attempt to block NuScale sale
By Erik Siemers
Business Journal staff writer
Troubled NuScale, a nuclear energy technology startup, got some good news on Friday that may move it closer to a $30 million investment.
A Florida investment fund backed by one-time Oregon-based financier Craig Berkman has backed off its attempts to block the sale of NuScale Power Inc.’s assets.
A majority stake of Corvallis-based NuScale is held by a court-appointed receiver after the company’s financial backer was convicted of running a Ponzi scheme earlier this year.
Court records filed last week indicate the company is close to securing a $30 million investment from a division of Texas-based engineering firm Fluor Corp., which also wanted to buy out the receiver’s stake in the company.
But Berkman’s Ventures Trust Management LLC investment fund, according to federal court documents, sought to block the deal so that it can put in its own competing bid.
While in Oregon, Berkman — once chairman of the Oregon Republican Party — was accused of defrauding investors in several funds in a case that resulted in a $58 million judgment in favor of the investors.
NuScale, which is developing scalable nuclear reactor technology created at Oregon State University, furloughed most of its 100-person work force and halted most of its operations in March after its primary financial backer, the Michael Kenwood Group, became the focus of a federal U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission probe.
Francisco Illarramendi, the majority owner of the Kenwood Group hedge fund, pleaded guilty to running the Ponzi scheme in March that left a majority ownership stake in NuScale’s in the hands of a court-appointed receiver.
NuScale’s deal with Fluor is still meeting opposition from Illarramendi’s father, Ramon, who is also seeking a court-order to give him time to put in a competing bid.
The Berkman group’s withdrawal comes after the federal Securities & Exchange Commission told a federal judge that neither Berkman nor Ramon Illarramendi were suitable buyers.
@ErikSiemers | 503.219.3418 | firstname.lastname@example.org
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