EU approves aid to French nuclear company

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The European Union has approved a French plan to provide Areva SA with €4.51 billion in aid as part of a restructuring plan.

The plan, though subject to conditions including tests undertaken by the French Nuclear Safety Agency, is aimed at allowing the company to recover without distorting competition, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Areva, 85 percent of which is owned by the French government, originally unveiled its plans to raise funds in June. Though must of the money would come from the French government, the company also plans to sell assets including a majority stake in its nuclear reactor manufacturing unit.

EU antitrust regulators began to probe the plan in July to ensure the company’s government stake didn’t give it an unfair advantage.

Areva has lost money over the last five years due to poor market conditions, money-losing investments and project overruns.

Additionally, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced plans to soon publically identify US nuclear reactors that are using components from Areva’s Le Creusot forge. French authorities are investigating allegations of alleged forgery relating to the quality of parts produced there.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials have determined any falsification of documents currently doesn’t pose any safety concerns to US nuclear plans.

Areva is a French multinational group specializing in nuclear power and renewable energy headquartered in Paris La Défense. Areva is majority owned by the French state, through French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (54.37%), Banque publique d’investissement (3.32%), and Agence des participations de l’État (28.83%). Moreover, Électricité de France which French government had a majority ownership, owned 2.24%; Kuwait Investment Authority owned 4.82% as the second largest shareholders after the French state.

In 2017 the majority of its reactor business will be sold to Électricité de France.