France Announcement on Areva Strategy, EDF Linkup Seen in April

The way forward for state-controlled nuclear company Areva SA, which last month reported a record loss, and potential links with Electricite de France SA must be decided and unveiled quickly because the situation is “very serious,” a French lawmaker said.

“The decisions on transformation have been made and will in principle be announced mid-April,” Francois Brottes, Socialist deputy and head of the economic affairs commission at the National Assembly, said at a conference in Paris. “Possible partnerships with EDF are being studied for activities like engineering and maintenance. We can’t ask EDF for everything all the time.”

The state owns more than 80 percent of the shares in both companies. French ministers have said the government is working with Areva and EDF to find ways to address the financial difficulties of Areva, which last month reported a record loss of 4.83 billion euros ($5.2 billion).

EDF operates all of France’s 58 nuclear reactors while Areva’s businesses include supplying equipment to build reactors, mine and manufacture fuel and handle atomic waste as well as develop offshore wind parks.

Areva has been hit by delays at projects in Finland and France and a slowdown in global nuclear expansion after the Fukushima disaster in Japan in 2011.

‘Strategic Errors’

“There have been significant strategic errors and questions need to be asked about oversight of the state as shareholders,” Brottes said about Areva at the conference organized by Les Echos. “It’s not the first time that one has to ask whether those representing the interests of the state are able to ask the right questions when they need to be asked.”

Responsibility has to be “shared” and solutions have to be found “quickly” because employees are worried, Brottes said.

President Francois Hollande and his ministers have called for greater cooperation between EDF and Areva as the country adopts a new atomic energy policy. Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron argued in Le Figaro on March 4 for a “new convergence” of the two companies’ strategies, with options ranging from a capital transaction to large-scale industrial cooperation.

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