Areva NP becomes Framatome and Atmea is reorganised

8 January 2018

French company New NP, the subsidiary of the Areva NP subsidiary responsible for the Areva Group's nuclear reactor operations, has been renamed Framatome following its sale to Electricite de France (EDF), Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and Assystem. Framatome is the name of the reactor vendor from which Areva was initially created.

In 2015, EDF agreed to take a stake of 51-75% in Areva SA's reactor unit as part of a government-backed plan to revitalise France’s nuclear power industry, which included a government capital injection of €4.5bn ($5.4bn) into Areva. The reactor operations to be sold, along with the activities relating to fuel assemblies and services to the nuclear-installed base, were transferred to a subsidiary wholly owned by Areva NP, known as 'New NP'. Not included were contracts relating to the Olkiluoto 3 EPR project in Finland and resources required to complete that project, as well as some contracts concerning components forged in the Le Creusot plant. Those contracts will remain with Areva.

In May 2017, French nuclear engineering company Assystem offered €125m for a 5% stake in New NP, and in July, Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) decided to take a 19.5% stake. In December, Areva and EDF announced that definitive agreements had been signed for sale following approval by their respective boards. Under the agreements, EDF acquires 75.5% of New NP's capital for €2.47 billion (for 100% of the capital), with no transfer of debt. The transaction was completed on 31 December 2017.

Areva NP announced on 4 January that New NP had been renamed Framatome. Framatome has 14,000 employees worldwide, holds around 3,500 patents covering some 680 inventions and operates on more than 250 reactors worldwide. The supervisory board of Framatome chaired by Jean-Bernard Lévy, chairman and CEO of EDF has appointed Bernard Fontana as chairman and CEO of Framatome and Philippe Braidy as managing director. Fontana has been CEO of Areva NP since September 2015.

Framatome said in a statement that it has "the determination to go further in terms of industrial excellence, leveraging five strategic axes: proven and sustainable expertise; performance in delivering; an agile and adaptive organisation; safe and competitive solutions; and, international development”.

Framatome (Franco-Américaine de Constructions Atomiques) was set up in 1958 by Schneider, Merlin Gerin and Westinghouse Electric to exploit Westinghouse licensed technology in the field of pressurised water reactors. In 1975, Framatome was chosen as the sole manufacturer of nuclear power plants in France and subsequently supplied EDF with 58 reactors. Framatome became Framatome ANP in 2001 after it merged with the reactor business of Germany's Siemens, which held 34% of the new company. Later in 2001, CEA Industrie (a subsidiary of the French atomic energy commission) was merged with Framatome and fuel cycle company Cogema to form the Areva Group. Framatome NP was renamed Areva NP. Siemens sold its stake in Areva NP to Areva in 2009.

Restructure for Atmea

Following the latest restructuring, the Atmea joint venture set up between Areva and  MHI in 2007 is to be reorganised. Atmea was established to develop, market, license and sell the 1100MWe Atmea-1 pressurised water reactor combining both companies' technologies. MHI said on 5 January that completion of its investment in Framatome “will result in a reorganisation of Atmea”. Under the new structure, there will be 50/50 ownership of Atmea between MHI and EDF, along with a special share owned by Framatome.

In 1991, MHI and Areva formed a joint venture in the nuclear fuel cycle business, and in 2006 agreed to strengthen their nuclear energy collaboration and leading to the establishment of Atmea. Turkey's second nuclear plant, at Sinop on its Black Sea coast, is proposed to feature four Atmea 1 reactors.

"Under the new arrangement, MHI, EDF and Framatome will collaborate in promoting worldwide sales of the Atmea-1 reactor," MHI said. "Prospects for the sale of the Atmea-1 have been expanding worldwide, especially in emerging economies, where new nuclear power plant construction plans are moving ahead."

Since 2005, MHI has received orders for 15 replacement steam generators for French nuclear power plants operated by EDF. In June 2016, MHI and EDF signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on cooperation in nuclear energy. The MOU called for EDF's marketing, technological and other support of Atmea's business, as well as broad-based cooperation in global markets making use of the two companies' technological capabilities and specialised strengths.

In 2009, Areva and Mitsubishi also agreed to set up a joint venture company in nuclear fuel fabrication. The new company was established by restructuring the existing Mitsubishi Nuclear Fuel company, with Areva NP taking a 30% stake in the new organisation. Also, MHI is scheduled to acquire a 5% equity stake in New Areva Holding (formerly referred to as 'NewCo'), a company primarily focused on the nuclear fuel cycle business. The investment is due to be completed by the end of January.

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