Areva Appoints New Executives as Lauvergeon Term Draws to Close

Areva SA, the world’s biggest supplier of nuclear equipment and services, appointed two chief operating officers, potentially grooming a successor to Chief Executive Officer Anne Lauvergeon, whose mandate ends in June.

Luc Oursel, a member of Areva’s executive board in charge of nuclear operations, will head marketing and projects, while Denis Hugelmann, senior executive vice president for nuclear waste recycling and other back-end operations, will lead operational performance, Paris-based Areva said today.

Areva has mandated three members of the supervisory board to prepare for “the renewal or the succession” of executives whose terms end in June, Chairman Jean-Cyril Spinetta said yesterday. The fate of Lauvergeon, who has expressed a desire to remain at the helm after June, has been the topic of speculation amid delays and cost overruns on a nuclear plant in Finland.

Lauvergon’s leadership has also been marred in recent years by the departure of Siemens AG from a reactor joint-venture with Areva, and a public spat with state-controlled Electricite de France SA, Areva’s biggest customer.

The Olkiluoto 3 project in Finland has forced Areva to set aside 2.6 billion euros ($3.4 billion) of provisions since the start of the project in 2005. Areva expects the construction of the first-of-a-kind 1,650 megawatt nuclear reactor to be completed by the end of 2012, more than three years behind scheduled.

EDF CEO Henri Proglio said at the start of 2010 that Areva’s new EPR reactor may be too powerful and too expensive for some countries, and he questioned the nuclear company’s foray into engineering. Lauvergeon shot back in March, accusing “vested interests” of trying to oust her.

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