France's Alstom and Schneider Electric have said they are considering a joint bid to acquire Areva's transmission and distribution (T&D) division. Areva's supervisory board recently asked the executive board to put the division up for sale.
The T&D division supplies products, systems and services dedicated to electricity transmission and distribution from the power plant to the final user. The division's customers are electric utilities as well as the oil, mining and metals, wind energy, paper and glass, transportation, and power engineering industries. Areva said that, through its transmission and distribution division, the group appears among the only three global actors in the high- and medium-voltage switchgear markets.
Alstom and Schneider said that they would create a joint venture to bid for Areva T&D. If its bid were successful, the high-voltage transmission activities would then be transferred to Alstom and the medium-voltage distribution activities to Schneider. The companies said that "such a transfer of activities would have no social consequences."
"This offer will optimise the strategic, industrial and commercial strengths that both Alstom and Schneider can bring to each of the two areas of T&D and maximise the value of the business," the companies said in a statement. They added, "This offer would consequently be more attractive for the vendor."
At the beginning of this month, Areva's supervisory board finalized steps to be taken to finance the group's long-term development plan. These include selling a stake of about 15% and the possible sale of its T&D operations.
Areva said that an open call for bids will be launched and a decision whether or not to sell the division and the choice of potential buyer will be taken before the end of 2009.
In 2008, the T&D division, with almost 30,000 employees, had sales revenue of €5065 million ($7200 million) and accounted for 38% of the Areva group’s sales.
The sale of its T&D division would leave Areva focussed on the nuclear power industry, with operations in uranium mining, conversion and enrichment; fuel design and fabrication; reactor design and construction; and decommissioning and waste disposal.