Title: Tim Gitzel, CEO at Cameco Corp.
Sub-title: The new head of this uranium sector giant has his hands full reassuring investors and the general public about nuclear power.
When Tim Gitzel was appointed CEO of Cameco in July of this year, he must have been wondering what he was getting into. The company’s stock price had just tanked by close to 40 percent from its year-to-date high, in the wake of the Japanese earthquakes and tsunami and the resulting damage to some of the country’s key nuclear facilities. As a result, the long term viability of nuclear power plants was being increasingly questioned around the world.
The upshot was that not only was Gitzel suddenly forced to be chief cheerleader for Cameco’s main output, uranium, his appointment as president of the World Nuclear Association in May of last year, meant that he also became a major public face of the industry itself. Yet none of this seems to bother the former lawyer and past president of the Saskatchewan Mining Association.
“I had no hesitation in taking the on the post, not even for one second,” said Gitzel. “I have been working my whole life in the industry and we have seen both good times and now, a bit more challenging times.”
Gitzel believes that rebuilding industry credibility starts with reemphasizing fundamentals. “Energy demand is expected to double over the next 20 years and the power will have to come from somewhere,” says Gitzel. “Nuclear should be a big part of the picture. There are currently 437 working reactors around the world and another 92 scheduled to arrive by 2020. Yet while some countries, such as Germany, Italy and Switzerland that were long cool on nuclear, have said they will phase it out, we will see how that plays out.”
Gitzel believes that while it is still too early to assess lessons learned and the overall impact of the Japanese nuclear power plant disasters, he points out that there were several unique geographical features at play, notably their location in potential earth quake and Tsunami zones.
Ironically, the recent cooling of market enthusiasm for nuclear power could create unexpected though timely opportunities for Cameco. The company has long had a policy of seeking out acquisitions. With asset prices in the nuclear space so depressed, this may well be the perfect opportunity for it to jump in.
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Peter Diekmeyer Communications Inc.