EU Investigating France-Areva Support Plan

Areva sign

The European Union opened a probe into financial support that France has given to help Areva in its restructuring plan.

Antitrust regulators are looking to make sure the funds did not give Areva an advantage over competitors, and whether Areva’s restructuring plans are enough to keep the company operating without needing more public funds in the future, according to The Wall Street Journal. The French government, which owns 85 percent of Areva, gave aid of around €4 billion ($4.42 billion). EDF, which is also owned by the French government, owns around 66 percent of Areva NP, the nuclear business unit. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in June agreed to buy an unknown minority stake in Areva NP, and EDF continues to search for other investment partners in the unit.

A French government official said in the article that news of the probe was not surprising, and that the investigation is standard procedure. The government still plans to finalize the deal in early 2017. EU rules allow state support for companies in trouble, but only if they can prove they will be viable and if the support has a limited impact on competition, the article said.

Areva has lost billions of dollars over the past five years due to a slowdown in the nuclear industry and cost overruns at projects in France and Finland.

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