PARIS Dec 27 Russian nuclear group Rosatom
would be interested in taking an equity stake in French peer
Areva if the French government allows it, a top Rosatom
executive said on Tuesday.
Under a government-led restructuring, 87 percent state-owned
Areva will be split up, with its reactor building
unit Areva NP being sold to state-owned utility EDF
while its nuclear fuel and uranium unit will become a separate
company provisionally named Areva NewCo.
Areva, EDF and their government shareholder are looking to
sell minority stakes to foreign investors in both Areva units.
Areva has said third-party investors have made a 500 million
euro ($520 million) offer for a combined 10 percent stake in
NewCo and that talks are under way with China's National Nuclear
Corporation (CNNC) and Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI)
about taking a stake in NewCo.
Asked whether Rosatom would consider buying a stake in
Areva, Andrey Rozhdestvin, head of Rosatom Western Europe, said
Rosatom would be willing to consider a stake in Areva NP as well
as Areva NewCo.
"We do not rule this out. If it could help Areva, I think
this can be considered," Rozhdestvin told reporters at Rosatom's
regional headquarter in Paris.
"We have discussed this, but it appears that the state is
not very keen on this," he said.
He said talks are ongoing with Chinese and Japanese
potential equity partners, but not with the Russians.
"This is worrying us," he said, adding that Rosatom has
several cooperation projects with Areva and is interested in
anything that affects its partner.
"Of course we try, if it is possible, to participate in the
resolution of the situation," he said.
French-Russian relations have been strained by Russia's
annexation of Ukraine's Crimea in 2014 and over Russia's role in
the war in Syria. French President Francois Hollande has
cancelled the sale of warships to Russia, and in October he
snubbed the inauguration of a new Russian-built Orthodox
Cathedral in Paris.
French conservative Francois Fillon, a leading contender to
win the presidential election in May, has said he wants to
restore ties with Russia.
(Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)