Areva nuclear group announces 4.8 bn euro loss

4th March 2015, Comments 0 comments

French nuclear group Areva on Wednesday confirmed record net losses in 2014 of 4.8 billion euros ($5.3 billion) after it was forced to absorb costs linked to project delays.

The mostly state-owned company, which had forecast losses of 4.9 billion euros, said it would see savings worth around one billion euros over the next few years and announce a financing plan by the end of March.

"The scale of the net loss for 2014 illustrates the two-fold challenge confronting Areva: continuing stagnation of the nuclear operations, lack of competitiveness and difficulties in managing the risks inherent in large projects," chief executive Philippe Knoche said in a statement.

Areva has taken a particular hit in the past year from delays in building its Olkiluoto 3 nuclear plant in Finland, as well as difficulties with its renewable energy contracts.

The company also said earlier there were impairment charges tied to the modernisation of its uranium conversion plant, the Comurhex II project in France.

Writedowns in the value of its assets and losses on projects came to 4.35 billion euros.

The company, which is 87-percent owned by the French state, has suffered in recent years as interest in nuclear power has cooled following the 2011 Fukushima catastrophe in Japan.

Areva announced in October that it would cut investments and step up sales of non-strategic assets as it tries to shore up its finances.

"The challenge for all of us today is to implement the transformation plan in all its aspects, to make Areva, in the French nuclear industry, a refocused, simplified, competitive group in a position of recovery," said Knoche.

Investments at the company, which hasn't posted a profit since 2010, are expected to fall by 1.6 billion euros over the next three years compared with the previous 3-year period to 3 billion euros.

More assets are to be sold than the 450-million-euro target announced last October.

At a later press conference Knoche said he couldn't exclude job cuts although Labour Minister Francois Rebsamen said no layoffs were planned.

"We will do everything so that if there are departures that it will be done on a volunteer basis," said Knoche.

With unemployment running at near record levels in France, job cuts at major companies, particularly state-owned companies, are politically sensitive.

Knoche also held out the possibility of talks with EDF, the French state-owned electricity firm which is Areva's top customer, about it taking a stake in the company.

Areva's shares rose 0.35 percent to 9.45 euros in early trading on the Paris stock exchange, which was up 0.45 percent overall.

© 2015 AFP

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