* Backs Proglio's idea to beef up French nuclear sector
* Says Proglio will be busy with EDF, Veolia
* Says should focus on his own projects
PARIS, Nov 20 French Economy Minister
Christine Lagarde said on Friday that while she understood new
EDF (EDF.PA) chief Henri Proglio's idea of strengthening
France's position in the nuclear sector, he should focus on his
own challenges at EDF and Veolia (VIE.PA).
Lagarde's comments to RTL radio followed Proglio's
interview with Les Echos on Wednesday in which he said
state-owned power group EDF shoud take a stake in Areva's
CEPFi.PA reactor business to regain French nuclear leadership.
"I understand and I approve of his determination to
strengthen France's position in the nuclear sector," Lagarde
said. "But there is a company called Areva with a very
significant expansion plan whose financing is under way and I
think that everyone should concentrate on their own dossiers."
Proglio would have "a lot on his plate" at EDF, while also
retaining a role as non-executive chairman of French water and
waste company Veolia (VIE.PA).
Proglio is due to take the reins of the nuclear power
producer EDF next week.
As CEO of Veolia, Proglio had a history of expanding the
business through acquisitions that left the company heavily
indebted and its stock weakened.
It remained unclear whether Proglio, seen by experts to be
close to President Nicolas Sarkozy, spoke for the French
government, which owns 91 percent of Areva and 85 percent of
EDF, analysts have said.
(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Dan Lalor)