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.
“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