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France's Areva opens possibility of minority stake buy by China's CNNC

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France's Areva opens possibility of minority stake buy by China's CNNC

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Areva and China National Nuclear Corp, or CNNC, signed a memorandum of understanding in Beijing Monday involving the "possible" acquisition of a minority stake by CNNC in the French nuclear company's capital, Areva said in a statement.

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The MoU is on a "possible partnership" that includes "capital and industrial components," including a "possible minority stake acquisition by CNNC," Areva said.

The MoU was signed in the presence of China's President, Xi Jinping, and his French counterpart, Francois Hollande.

The French government owns 87% of Areva. CNNC is a Chinese state-owned company.

The statement also said the partnership would cover "all of the nuclear fuel cycle activities" of the French company. Areva has activities in uranium mining, uranium conversion and enrichment, spent fuel reprocessing, logistics, and nuclear reactor decommissioning and dismantling.

"This project offers numerous opportunities for both Areva and CNNC. Strengthening the cooperation with our Chinese partners is an integral factor for Areva's future success," Areva Chairman Philippe Varin said during the signature ceremony in Beijing, according to the statement.

The statement said the nuclear fuel cycle activities included in the partnership are "not directly affected by EDF's acquisition of Areva NP currently underway."

French state-controlled utility EDF and Areva announced an agreement July 30 under which EDF would buy a 51-75% stake in Areva NP, which designs and manufactures nuclear reactors and provides a range of operation and maintenance services for existing reactors. Areva would maintain a 15-25% stake in Areva NP.

Areva released its third-quarter financial results Thursday, reporting revenue of Eur1.017 billion (about $1.1 billion), up 18.9% on the year, as uranium sales to Asia increased.

--Benjamin Leveau,
--Edited by Jonathan Dart,