The French government is considering selling shares in some of the country’s leading companies in order to help finance a €3 billion fundraising drive by EDF, the company behind the proposed new nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point in the UK, reports The Financial Times.
The French government owns 86% of EDF and has already agreed to pay €3bn of a capital injection plan that was announced recently.
In October EDF struck a deal with China General Nuclear Power Corporation, which agreed to pay a third of the total cost of the project in return for a 33.5% stake. Hinkley Point was scheduled to start producing power by 2023, but French electricity giant EDF, which is leading on the project, is heavily indebted and is struggling to raise the cash for its 66.5% stake. As a result its board has repeatedly delayed making a final investment decision.
According to The Financial Times, there are plans in place to sell airports in Nice and Lyon to help finance the deal. Emmanuel Macron, the French economy minister, has said that there would be "other operations" tapped.
Shares in Renault and the aerospace and defence group Safran could also be sold.
Meanwhile EDF’s former chief financial officer Thomas Piquemal has told the French parliament that he urged the utility to delay a final investment decision on building Britain’s Hinkley Point nuclear plant by at least three years.
"In January 2015, I proposed to chief executive Jean-Bernard Levy to negotiate a three-year delay with our client because we reasoned that the weight of the project on EDF’s balance sheet would be significant", M. Piquemal said at a parliament committee hearing on 4 May. M. Piquemal resigned in March and had not previously spoken publicly about his reasons for leaving.