Siemens to sell stake in French nuclear giant

German engineering firm Siemens confirmed Monday that it intended to sell off its 34% stake in Areva NP, the reactor subsidiary of French nuclear power giant Areva.


AFP - German engineering group Siemens said Monday it is to give up its stake in Areva NP, the reactor subsidiary of French nuclear power giant Areva.

Siemens currently holds a 34-percent stake in Areva NP, estimated to be worth 2.0 billion euros (2.6 billion dollars), which it will sell to Areva within three years, a Siemens statement said.

Siemens chief executive Peter Loscher indicated in the statement that the joint ownership was proving problematic, saying: "We want to play an active role in future developments, and that goes for the nuclear industry.

"That's why we have taken this initiative."

"For us, nuclear energy remains an essential component in the sphere of sustainable energies," he added.

A source said Friday that any decision to pull out would not be for "political" reasons.

A 2001 shareholders' agreement which governs Areva NP gives Siemens an option to sell its shares to Areva.

According to French business daily Les Echos, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called French President Nicolas Sarkozy to discuss the deal.

Sarkozy has not hidden his desire for Areva to buy the stake in the joint venture with the aim of creating a French national champion based on Areva, engineering group Alstom and construction group Bouygues.

Siemens started in the nuclear power industry in 1980 when it worked together with French group Framatome to develop a third generation nuclear reactor (EPR).

In 2001, Siemens and Areva grouped their nuclear activities from France, Germany and the United States into one company, Areva NP.

The German government has approved plans to mothball the last of its 17 nuclear reactors by about 2020 and polls show a majority of people in western Europe's most populous country oppose nuclear power.


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