France’s nuclear merger: European watchdog to approve deal

France’s nuclear merger: European watchdog to approve deal

The European Commission will decide whether to approve a deal that would see electricity giant EDF acquire a controlling interest

Photo: Reuters/Regis Duvignau

Photo: Reuters/Regis Duvignau

The European Commission will decide whether to approve a deal that would see electricity giant EDF acquire a controlling interest in part of Areva, a company that designs and manufactures nuclear reactors. Both firms are majority-owned by the French government.

The European Commission’s competition watchdog is concerned that the deal might impact pricing and innovation—particularly if an EDF-owned Areva decides to stop selling its highly complex and difficult to replicate parts to external companies.

By merging EDF with Areva’s nuclear reactor business, France’s government is hoping to create a more potent nuclear energy exporter. EDF and Areva are both responsible for constructing the UK’s $24 billion Hinkley Point C plant.

The merger is expected to increase the competitiveness of EDF’s nuclear reactor business, helping it fend off competition from Russian and Japanese exporters.

As well as exporting nuclear power plants, EDF is currently the world’s largest producer of electricity—supplying more than a fifth of the EU’s power. The Areva deal will further consolidate its position as one of Europe’s most powerful energy players.

The European Commission is expected to approve the agreement on Monday.