PARIS, Oct 6 (Reuters) - The French government wants utility EDF and nuclear group Areva, both state-owned, to keep a combined 66 percent stake in Areva’s former reactor building arm Areva NP, a government source told Reuters on Tuesday.
With respective stakes of 51 percent for EDF and 15 percent for Areva, this would open the door for outside investors to buy into Areva NP and limit the amount of funds the French state will have to spend on saving the nuclear firm.
The source also said EDF and Areva will look for one or more partners for the remaining 34 percent of Areva NP and said EDF will finalise its offer for Areva NP at the end of November, but declined to comment on media reports saying the French state plans to inject 2.5-3 billion euros of new capital into Areva.
After four consecutive years of losses wiped out Areva’s capital, EDF said in July it had agreed to buy 51-75 percent of Areva’s reactor arm Areva NP, while Areva would keep a maximum 25 percent and EDF would look for other investors to invest in Areva NP.
Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd said late last month it was in talks with Areva about possibly taking a stake in Areva NP, which designs, builds and services nuclear reactors.
EDF has not yet said how much it will pay Areva for a majority stake in Areva NP, but has said the entire unit was valued at 2.7 billion in Areva’s accounts.
The final price paid by EDF and any other new shareholders in Areva NP will determine how much more money that Areva - which will now focus on uranium mining, reactor fuel and nuclear waste recycling - will need to recapitalise.
French daily Le Monde said on Tuesday the state would inject 2.5-3 billion euros in Areva. It also reported EDF would take a 51 percent stake in Areva NP and Areva would keep 15 percent.
A union source told Reuters that Areva would need a capital injection of at least 2.5 billion euros. (Reporting by Jean-Baptiste Vey and Emmanuel Jarry; Writing by Geert De Clercq, editing by David Evans)