France, Qatar leaders in Areva talks
Paris, November 27, 2010
French President Nicolas Sarkozy met Qatar's prime minister in Paris last week in a bid to resolve the stalemate over nuclear reactor maker Areva's capital increase, the Financial Times reported.
The paper said Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al-Thani was in Paris for a stopover to discuss the terms of Qatar's proposed investment in Areva. An Elysee spokesman declined to comment.
Areva, which is almost 90 per cent owned by the French state, is planning a capital increase which it hopes will raise up to 3 billion euros to finance future development projects.
Areva has been talking to the sovereign wealth funds of Qatar and Kuwait and Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in the hope of sealing their investment by the end of the year.
Qatar is seeking guarantees over the value of Areva, for example by having an option to take shares in its sensitive uranium mining division, even as tensions on the French side about the operation's terms and conditions intensify, the FT said.
The FT cited people close to the situation as saying that the government would have to decide whether to go ahead with the capital increase in the coming days if it was to meet its target of raising funds by the end of the year.
The planned capital increase has been complicated by disagreements with EDF, which holds a 2.4 percent stake in the nuclear reactor maker.
Earlier this week Areva CEO Anne Lauvergeon warned that some of its utility clients would be unhappy if EDF took seats on its supervisory board as part of the plan, although Areva would not object to it raising its stake.-Reuters