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Former Electricite de France SA Chief Financial Officer says he quit because of financial risks of Hinkley nuclear project

scrutiny-on-costsflag-franceflag-UKEx-EDF CFO Quit Over Financial Risks From U.K. Nuclear Project, Bloomberg,    FrancoisDeBeaup   

    • Piquemal says French utility needs to strengthen balance sheet
    • EDF can’t afford significant downgrade in rating: Piquemal

Former Electricite de France SA Chief Financial Officer Thomas Piquemal said he quit two months ago to highlight the risks of proceeding with the 18 billion-pound ($26 billion) Hinkley Point nuclear power project without additional financing.

The timetable pushed by EDF Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jean-Bernard Levy for an investment decision on the U.K. project meant there wouldn’t have been time to strengthen the utility’s balance sheet, Piquemal told a hearing at the National Assembly in Paris. That would have left the company reliant on its 85 percent shareholder, the French state, providing funding and threatened EDF with the same fate as troubled nuclear-reactor builder Areva SA, he said.

“A new nuclear project is an extra risk for a company,” Piquemal said in his first public statement since quitting. “I didn’t want to approve a decision that could leave EDF in Areva’s situation one day.”……

Financial Strain

Speculation has mounted over the future of Hinkley Point since Piquemal resigned amid concerns the project would put EDF under too much financial strain, while labor unions have called for a three-year delay until similar nuclear plants built by the company start operating in France and China…….
EDF has held off on making a final investment decision even after forming a partnership with China General Nuclear Power Corp. and securing guaranteed power prices from the U.K. government at almost three times the current market rate for 35 years.Rating companies will probably downgrade EDF because large nuclear projects such as Hinkley Point will increase its risk profile, the ex-CFO said. While EDF had no financing problems at the end of 2015, it can’t afford a “significant” downgrade that would push its hybrid debt into the “junk” category because it would complicate a potential refinancing from 2020, Piquemal said. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-05-04/ex-edf-cfo-quit-over-financial-risks-from-u-k-nuclear-project

 

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May 6, 2016 - Posted by | business and costs, France, UK

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