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Government tracks to cut EDF

For several weeks, the Electrician's management and the executive have been preparing a plan to separate nuclear activities from the rest of the group. A high-risk issue for the government.

By Nabil Wakim Posted today at 10h51

Time to Reading 4 min.

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Jean-Bernard Levy, CEO of EDF, March 1, 2019 in Marseille.
Jean-Bernard Levy, CEO of EDF, March 1, 2019 in Marseille. FRANCOIS NASCIMBENI / AFP

"Does the state want to save the EDF group or destroy it? ", a unionist alarmed. For more than a year, the reflection on the reorganization of the first European electrician is in full swing at the Elysée and EDF management. On the menu: the nationalization of some of the activities … and the gradual privatization of another. An explosive issue for the government, under pressure in the ADP Group file.

But the reorganization of EDF, as stated in the plan named, according to The ParisianHercules is otherwise more electric: the company is a part of the national heritage, and in the current climate, any reorganization could be interpreted as a dismantling.

However, the group faces an almost impossible equation: it loses hundreds of thousands of customers each year and must plan billions of euros of investment to extend an aging nuclear fleet – not to mention the financing of new plants. All this against a background of a colossal debt of about 33 billion euros.

Large maneuvers

Faced with this difficult situation, the executive and the CEO of the electrician, Jean-Bernard Lévy – who will be reappointed to his position in May – have launched the major maneuvers for "Save the EDF soldier". "We agree on a few key principles, but we only settled 10% of the file"explains a central actor of the subject.

Officially, Emmanuel Macron has not taken a stand on the subject. In November 2018, he asked the boss of EDF to seize this subject and make proposals by 2021. The goal: to have settled this issue before the next presidential election of 2022.

Several scenarios are on the table in the ministries and at EDF management. The idea would be to keep a parent company with two main subsidiaries. On the one hand, nuclear activities, existing and future, in a 100% public company. EDF management is dreaming of adding hydroelectric dams, which France has nevertheless committed to open to competition. This set represents more than 80% of electricity production in France.

When he was Minister of the Economy, Emmanuel Macron had already mentioned this possibility, considering that a solution to EDF's problems could consist in "Break the link between activities in the nuclear field in France and the rest of the group". To achieve this, it would be necessary to vote in the law the creation of a public institution, a kind of return to the previous status of EDF, before opening the market to competition.


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