November 3, 2015 / 7:11 AM / 2 years ago

France's Hollande says would welcome Chinese investment in Areva

BEIJING (Reuters) - French President Francois Hollande said on Tuesday that he would welcome Chinese investment in state-owned nuclear group Areva but that the French government was ultimately responsible for the company’s recapitalisation.

France's President Francois Hollande shakes hands with China's Premier Li Keqiang during a meeting at at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China, November 3, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Lee

“We would like to have Chinese capital in Areva,” Hollande told reporters in Beijing after meeting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

Hollande’s remarks come after Areva signed a memorandum of understanding for a possible partnership with China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) on Monday that could see the Chinese firm take on a minority stake in the French company.

The partnership would cover uranium mining, recycling, logistics, decommissioning and dismantling, Areva said earlier in a statement, but excludes the reactor business that French utility EDF is buying from the company.

Hollande said because China and France are already building nuclear plants together, it is legitimate for a Chinese firm to play a part in restructuring Areva.

After four consecutive years of losses wiped out Areva’s capital, EDF said in July it had agreed to buy 51-75 percent of Areva’s reactor arm Areva NP, while Areva would keep a maximum 25 percent and EDF would look for other investors to invest in Areva NP.

Reporting By Dominique Patton, Writing By Megha Rajagopalan; Editing by Nick Macfie and Miral Fahmy

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