French leader welcomes possible Chinese investment in nuclear group

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A Chinese investment in France’s struggling nuclear company Areva would be legitimate and no threat to the nation, President Francois Hollande said Tuesday in Beijing.

Areva said it agreed Monday to discuss “a possible minority stake acquisition” by the state-owned China National Nuclear Corporation, covering the uranium fuel cycle, including mining, recycling and logistics.

“We would like to have Chinese capital in Areva,” Hollande told reporters Tuesday after his meeting with premier Li Keqiang on the second and last day of his visit.

“Seeing as China is a partner as we [already] build nuclear power stations together, it was quite legitimate to get it involved in the company’s restructuring,” he said.

The Paris-based multinational group, specialized in nuclear and renewable energy, has suffered four consecutive years of losses. It is seeking billions of euros to stay afloat, according to financial news agency Bloomberg.

In the context of the recapitalization drive, “foreign capital, including Chinese, has its place,” Hollande said, adding that this would not compromise France’s sovereignty.

However, he added that the French government was ultimately responsible for the state-owned company’s recapitalization.

Monday’s memorandum of understanding between Areva and CNNC was in line with a framework agreed ny France and China on June 30.

The French president focused during his visit on discussing economic partnerships and the two nations’ roles in fighting climate change.

France and China issued a joint declaration Monday to “work together with leaders of other countries to reach an ambitious and legally binding agreement in Paris,” where the UN Climate Change Conference will be held November 30 to December 11.

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