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S&P cuts AREVA, new subsidiary to B on reactor safety condition

S&P Global Ratings on Jan. 18 lowered the long-term debt ratings for AREVA SA and its new subsidiary to B from B+ due to a delay in the €5 billion capital increase recently approved by the European Commission.

The capital increase was approved last week but is subject to two conditions, including a positive outcome from the Nuclear Safety Authority, expected by mid-2017, over the ongoing testing of the carbon segregation of the Flamanville reactor pressure vessel.

According to the rating agency, it had not anticipated the safety authority condition and assumed that the capital increase proceeds would be received in early 2017, to be followed by the separation of the subsidiary.

The rating agency believes that the €3.3 billion, six-month shareholder loan from the French state will provide a liquidity cushion for the company only in 2017.

S&P noted that the outlook on both AREVA and the subsidiary is developing, and it may upgrade the rating to BB or BB+ if the capital increase is executed by mid-2017.

However, if the French Nuclear Safety Authority raises major concerns over the carbon segregation of the Flamanville reactor vessel, the rating may be cut further.

S&P also downgraded AREVA's €1.25 billion revolving credit facility to B from B+, as well as various senior unsecured bonds of the new subsidiary to B+ from BB-.

S&P Global Ratings and S&P Global Market Intelligence are owned by S&P Global Inc.