France's Areva to announce big losses-minister

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Dec 11 (Reuters) - French nuclear reactor maker Areva will announce large losses on Tuesday when the group unveils its strategy, French Industry Minister Eric Besson said on Sunday.

"I can confirm that Areva will announce losses," Besson told Radio J. "In all likelihood, they will be big."

The group had been expected to tackle sliding profits that could include asset write-offs of more than 1 billion euros ($1.34 billion), when the French state-owned nuclear reactor group unveils its strategy this week.

Luc Oursel, in his first major meeting with investors as Areva's new chief executive, will lay out how he will reshape the group after several governments have abandoned or reviewed plans for nuclear energy after Japan's Fukushima crisis.

"The exact figures, they are for President Luc Oursel to announce and explain," Besson said. "Giving figures without explanations makes no sense, and it's not up to me to do it."

Prior to Fukushima, Areva's performance was plagued by the delay of its Olkiluoto nuclear project in Finland and disappointing results from the uranium mines, formerly known as Uramin, it bought in Africa in 2007.

It made an operating loss in 2010 due to delays on the new-generation EPR reactor in Finland, which has led to a provision of 2.6 billion euros.

Analysts expect Areva will have to make extra provisions this year, estimated to be as high as 1.5 billion euros, on some of its businesses to tidy up its accounts.

Oursel has said Areva's management was working on improving the company's profitability, and the balance between its investments and the cash flow to be generated from them.

Areva shares have dropped 42.6 percent this year but have been little changed over the past three months.

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