Areva to sell transmission division to raise cash

FRANCE - Nuclear power giant Areva said it would sell its transmission and development division in a bid to raise cash to shore up its balance sheet and fund future investments.

Paris-based Areva, the world's largest nuclear reactor builder, bought the division for about 920 million euros in 2004 from French power provider Alstom. Areva said it hopes to being soliciting bids soon and make a decision by the end of 2009.

The company also said it will receive proceeds from the French government's plan to sell 15 percent of its roughly 90 percent stake in Areva to industrial peers, current stakeholders and employees.

And Areva is considering divesting stakes in French miner Eramet and ST Microelectronics, a Swiss electronics maker.

The capital raising plans come after Areva said earlier this year its 2008 profit dropped about 21 percent, due in part to losses on a Finnish nuclear project and lower uranium prices.

Areva employs 75,000 people and is majority owned by the French state and France's Atomic Energy Commission. State-controlled Electricite de France also owns a 2.4 percent stake.

The company competes with General Electric Co. of the United States; Westinghouse Electric Co., a subsidiary of Japan's Toshiba Corp.; and Russia's Atomstroyexport to design and build nuclear reactors. Areva says it has built 100 of the 303 light water reactors in service worldwide, including all of France's 58 reactors.

Areva operates in all segments of the nuclear industry from uranium mining in Canada, Niger and Kazakhstan to enrichment at sites in southeast France. It also makes reactor fuel assemblies in France, Germany and the United States, and operates a nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in Normandy.

Rising demand for electricity and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions could drive an almost fourfold jump in nuclear power reactors under operation worldwide by 2050, the Paris-based Nuclear Energy Agency said last year.



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