Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd (MHI) has begun examining a "concrete proposal" to take a minority stake in French state-owned Areva's reactor unit.
MHI said on 6 November that in coming weeks it will consider the conditions for making an offer for Areva NP, including "ownership ratios," and will also "work up a proposal of Japan-France collaborative measures" around the safety and reliability of nuclear power plants. This could help Areva strengthen its finances after losses caused by a degree of mismanagement and by the closure of nuclear plants in Japan and Germany.
MHI's partnership with Areva began in 2006. In 2009 Areva and MHI agreed to establish a joint venture company in the nuclear fuel fabrication business. The new company was established by restructuring the existing Mitsubishi Nuclear Fuel (MNF) company, with Areva NP taking a 30% stake in the new company.
The two companies signed a $22bn agreement in May 2013 to build a nuclear power plant in Turkey, the first major order for a Japanese firm since Fukushima using their jointly developed Atmea-1 reactor. Areva NP is to be taken over by Electricite de France (EDF), which announced plans in July to take a majority stake in the struggling company as part of a government rescue plan. MHI also has links with EDF and since 2005 has received orders for 15 replacement steam generators for EDF reactors.
MHI president and CEO Shunichi Miyanaga said, "Through the years MHI, EDF and Areva have enjoyed favourable cooperation in applying their respective technologies, and I have high expectations that an investment by MHI into Areva NP would realize and strengthen the ties between the Japanese and French nuclear energy industries further, which in turn will enable us to contribute to the improvement of the quality of nuclear power plants around the world."
On 2 November, Areva SA said China National Nuclear Corp may buy a minority stake in the parent company as part of wider ranging nuclear cooperation.