(Reuters) – France’s Areva faces an uncertain future as a specialised nuclear fuel supplier, as a state rescue moves its core nuclear reactor activities to its utility customer EDF.
Shares in the state-owned firm briefly rose almost 6 percent on Thursday after the government said late on Wednesday it would recapitalise Areva and approved EDF’s plan to take over Areva’s reactor unit.
The government plan unwinds Areva’s much-vaunted model of an integrated nuclear group that mines and enriches uranium, produces nuclear fuel, builds reactors and recycles spent fuel.
Created fifteen years ago from the nuclear fuel group Cogema and reactor builder Framatome, Areva had ambitions to sell as many as 16 of its massive EPR reactors to energy-hungry developing countries.
But it has not sold a reactor since 2007 and the four it did sell have been plagued by delays and cost overruns. More than two decades after it was designed, not a single EPR is in operation today.
Still, the French government said it hopes an EDF-led nuclear industry could win the export contracts that have proved so elusive for Areva.
“The French camp must work together abroad,” Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron told France Info radio on Thursday.
In light of French President Francois Hollande’s pledge to reduce French power generation’s reliance on the atom to 50 percent by 2025 from 75 percent, and with EDF banking on extending the life of its 58 reactors by at least 10 years, Areva has no market at home.
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