Whoever succeeds Francois Hollande as France’s president may find one of their first tasks in office will be selling off some of the nation’s prized assets to prop up the state’s nuclear industry. That’s because the government is as much as 3 billion euros ($3.2 billion) short of the 7.5 billion euros it has said it needs this year to fix the financial problems of Areva and EDF, said two government officials with direct knowledge of the matter. Hollande will try to find an answer before he leaves office in June, one of the people said. If he can’t, his successor must decide how to plug the gap, said the other person. France is preparing to rescue its nuclear industry after EDF was weakened by falling European power prices and Areva lost billions on a long-delayed project in Finland. The president must either increase the national debt or weigh politically sensitive privatizations of holdings in anything from automakers such as Renault to the former phone monopoly — a tall order with the first round of presidential elections just three months away. All three leading presidential candidates have said they will support the nuclear industry, at least in the medium term, as the best guarantee of energy security and a low-carbon future. Hollande’s spokesman didn’t answer messages seeking comment for this story. Representatives of Francois Fillon, the Republican Party candidate, Socialist Benoit Hamon and Emmanuel Macron, an independent, also declined to comment. Marine Le Pen of the National Front wouldn’t sell state assets but instead ask state-controlled Caisse des Depots et Consignations to invest in Areva, her economic adviser Bernard Monod said in a text message.
Bloomberg 3rd Feb 2017 read more »