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Energy rivals bury feud as EDF buys out Areva

Areva, the former juggernaut of French industry, is now on the brink of collapse AFP PHOTO BERTRAND GUAY

Atomic energy giant Areva on Thursday agreed to sell a majority stake of its nuclear reactor unit to electricity group EDF to overcome its economic woes.


The quasi-merger of long-time rivals Areva and EDF was the result of months of careful persuasion by the French government.

Areva, once the most advanced atomic giants in the world, has suffered a string of setbacks, which have cost the company millions, and France its role as a major player in the nuclear sector.

With a debt totalling six billion euros owing to the nine year delay of its EPR reactor in Finland, Areva was in desperate need of fresh capital.

That's where electricity group EDF stepped in, offering to purchase 51 and 75 per cent of Areva's subsidiary nuclear reactor unit: Areva NP for a total of 2.7 billion euros.

Bernard Fontana, former head of Swiss cement giant Holcim, has been put forward to take the top spot.

The valuation was less than the four billion euros Areva had sought for the reactor subsidiary, but will provide part of the seven billion in financing the struggling giant says it will need by 2017.