EDF CEO Says Strategy in U.K. Won’t Be Affected by Brexit

  • Both sides of vote campaign support nuclear energy: EDF CEO
  • EDF’s Board Said Not to Have Fully Assessed Brexit Impact

The U.K.’s vote to leave the European Union won’t affect Electricite de France SA’s strategy in the country, which includes the planned construction of a 18 billion-pound ($25 billion) nuclear power plant.

“We think that this vote has no impact on our strategy,” EDF Chief Executive Officer Jean-Bernard Levy told reporters in Paris Friday. “The strategy for our British subsidiary is unchanged.”

Jean-Bernard Levy
Jean-Bernard Levy
Photographer: Christophe Morin/Bloomberg

Speculation has mounted over the future of the controversial project in southwest England since EDF’s finance chief quit in March, saying the investment would put the utility under too much financial strain. Since then, the company unveiled plans to strengthen its balance sheet by selling assets and issuing new shares. The Hinkley Point project depends on a subsidy agreed with the U.K. government, which would pay EDF 92.50 pounds for every megawatt-hour of electricity it produces for 35 years, almost three times the current price.

Significant Impact

EDF’s board hasn’t fully assessed the impact of the U.K.’s vote to leave the EU on Hinkley Point, said two of the company’s board members. The people, who asked not to be identified because the matter isn’t public, said they were surprised Levy said the project would be unaffected without first consulting the board.

EDF’s press office declined to comment on whether the board had considered the matter.

Both sides of the debate in the U.K. voiced support for maintaining a low-carbon, pro-nuclear policy, and for the Hinkley Point project itself, Levy said. Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom, a prominent campaigner in favor of leaving the EU, told parliament in May that power from Hinkley would be cheaper than alternative energy sources.

“Today’s decision to leave the EU could have a significant impact” on the U.K.’s nuclear program, Fiona Reilly, global head of nuclear capital projects and infrastructure at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, said in a statement. “Uncertainty in the market, at least in the short term, could affect access to capital and investor confidence,’’ while the nation will have to renegotiate some international nuclear treaties, she said.

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