Areva "open to all options" in bid to reduce debt

The chief operating officer of troubled French nuclear and offshore wind company Areva has said his firm is open to all options in a bid to reduce its debt.

Philippe Knoche (pictured) said at a parliamentary hearing in Paris last week that a recapitalization would be considered, and that the company may be forced to cut French jobs, Bloomberg News reports.

There are no “simple solutions, whether in terms of partnerships or recapitalization,” Knoche said, as Areva must “get out of the vicious cycle of over-indebtedness.”

With its credit rating cut to non-investment grade by ratings agency Standard and Poor’s in November, Areva is expected to post a loss in 2014 for the fourth consecutive year. The firm blamed decreased demand for nuclear fuel and services in Europe and Japan, as well as construction delays, for its revised 2015 and 2016 profit forecasts.

According to Knoche the company “doesn’t have a short-term cash problem”, with over €2bn ($2.5bn) in cash. However, Areva’s debt amounts to around €7bn.

Knoche is set to unveil a strategy for moving forward in February 2015, in advance of the firm’s publication of its 2014 results. Part of the plan involves a previously announced €450m in asset sales by 2016, while Knoche has said the firm aims to step up its partnerships with Asian companies. Areva is currently designing a new reactor in collaboration with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

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