In a bid to resolve its on-going dispute with the Italian government over its voting rights in Edison, EdF is reportedly prepared to include Enel in the development of its next generation European Pressurised water Reactor (EPR) project, due to start in 2007.

The partnership is likely to involve technology transfer that could see Enel develop a new nuclear portfolio, despite an existing ban on nuclear facilities in Italy.

The key issue in resolving the dispute is easing Enel access to French electricity consumers, however, EdF has indicated its desire to sell its stake if the dispute is not resolved promptly and its voting rights lifted above the current 2%. The company has reportedly already received at least three offers from Italian players for varying stakes in Italenergia, the majority owner of Edison and Endesa has also made an offer.

Pierre Gadonneix, chairman of EdF, is expected to meet Paolo Scaroni, chairman of Enel, this week in an effort to break the deadlock.

However, while Enel is likely to be interested in rebuilding a skill base in nuclear technologies and EdF is looking for partners to help fund the estimated €3 billion development cost of the EPR, the deal won’t ameliorate the market access issue. Furthermore, EdF will have to tread carefully in order not to antagonise other potential partners in the EPR project.

Meanwhile, Enel has signed its contract for the purchase of a 66% stake in Slovakian major electricity generator Slovenske Elektrarne (SE). Enel won the tender last October with a bid of €840 million and will also assume €1.1 billion of debt. Scaroni has reportedly said Enel is prepared to invest more than euro 1 billion expanding the Mochovce nuclear plant.