Strategic investors finalise New NP acquisitions

10 July 2017

Mistubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and Assystem have today signed binding agreements with EDF to take equity stakes in New Areva NP. Subject to approval by its board, MHI will take a stake of 15% - and potentially up to 19.5% - in New NP, while Assystem will take a 5% stake.

The agreements follow a contract signed by Areva and EDF in November 2016, under which EDF will acquire a stake of up to 75% in New NP. Strategic investors are able to take minority stakes in the company, which will combine the Areva Group's activities relating to the design and manufacture of nuclear reactor equipment and nuclear fuel, and services to the nuclear installed base. EDF will retain a stake of at least 51%. The sale price for 100% of New NP's equity has been confirmed at €2.5 billion ($2.8 billion).

In January, MHI agreed to acquire a 5% stake in NewCo, which will combine Areva's nuclear fuel cycle activities, for €250 million.

French nuclear engineering company Assystem made an offer of €125 million for a 5% stake in New NP in May. The company said today the acquisition forms part of a broader agreement with EDF aimed at consolidating the two companies' partnership, particularly concerning maintenance services at nuclear power plants in France and the UK. It does not restrict Assystem from working with other major international players.

Assystem chairman Dominique Lewis said the company's participation in the financing round for New NP was a "clear fit" with its development strategy both in France and internationally.

"The agreement we have signed strengthens our long-standing relationship with the major players in the French nuclear industry and opens up new opportunities for working with industry participants in other countries, notably Japan," he said.

EDF and third-party investors will simultaneously acquire their equity stakes in New NP, with the transactions expected to be completed by the end of the year. EDF said it "remains open" for other strategic partners to enter New NP's share capital.

EDF Group chairman and CEO Jean-Bernard Lévy said the entry of new partners into New NP's shareholding was a key milestone in the restructuring of the French nuclear industry.

"This demonstrates the attractiveness of our projects and expertise to other players in the global nuclear industry," he said.

France notified the European Commission in April last year of the planned restructuring of Areva, which is 86.5% state-owned, in a bid to restore the group's competitiveness. The commission approved the restructuring in January, and in May approved EDF's takeover of Areva's nuclear reactor business under EU merger regulations. The transfer excludes contracts and resources relating to the Olkiluoto 3 EPR project in Finland and some contracts relating to components forged in the Le Creusot plant.

Discussions are now under way between EDF and Areva on the conditions for implementing the commission's requirement that Areva exit completely from New NP, at the latest by the end of Areva's restructuring plan in 2019.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News