French nuclear industry restructuring completed

With two Japanese companies each taking up a 5% share in the fuel cycle company resulting from Areva’s commercial distress, the restructuring of the French nuclear industry over three years is complete.

The new company, Orano, is now owned by the French state (45.2%), the Commission of Atomic Energy and Alternative Energy (4.8%), Areva SA (40%), Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (5%) and Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd (5%).

Each 5% Japanese share involved a €250 million investment. Orano comprises the mining, conversion, enrichment, fuel fabrication, reprocessing and other back-end services of Areva. JNFL is responsible for the Rokkasho reprocessing plant in Japan, the completion of which has been delayed many times, and its mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel fabrication plant.

Areva earlier saw the new fuel cycle company as “refocused on less-risky cash flow generating operations” compared with its disastrous reactor business and thus able to refinance on capital markets and “in a good position to grow.” Orano intends to increase its Asian revenue from 20% to 30% of total by 2020 and achieve positive net cash flow this year. It plans to invest €1.8 billion in modernising its plants by 2025.

The other major company formed in the French restructuring is Framatome, taking over most of Areva NP, it is now largely owned by Electricite de France (EDF). This comprises the reactor design and vendor side of Areva, with fuel design, supply and services to existing nuclear power plants. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, with a similar industry profile, also invested about €483 million in this company to hold 19.5% of it. The hugely delayed and greatly over-budget Olkiluoto 3 project in Finland was excluded, and stays with Areva SA.

World Nuclear Association