Kuwait's SWF said to seek sale of Areva stake

Sovereign wealth fund tells French authorities it wants to sell its stake in nuclear group Areva
Kuwait's SWF said to seek sale of Areva stake
By Reuters
Mon 13 Jun 2016 03:28 PM

Sovereign wealth fund Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) has told French authorities it wants to sell its stake in nuclear group Areva, La Lettre de l'Expansion reported on Monday.

KIA is Areva's second-biggest shareholder with a 4.82 percent stake, according to ThomsonReuters data.

The newsletter said the Kuwaiti fund had complained that its investment in Areva, which is majority owned by the French government, was made based on incorrect company accounts.

French Industry Minister Emmanuel Macron and Areva declined to comment on the report. KIA was not immediately available for comment.

KIA paid 600 million euros ($676 mln) for the stake in 2010, but since then Areva shares have plunged by about 90 percent as the firm's equity has been wiped out by years of losses.

Areva will be rescued by a 5 billion euro state-funded capital increase and its nuclear reactor unit will be taken over by state-owned utility EDF later this year or early next year.

The French state holds about 87 percent of Areva's capital.

KIA or other minority shareholders have never publicly complained about Areva's accounts, but former Areva chief executive Anne Lauvergeon was put under formal investigation last month for her role in the 2007 acquisition of uranium mining firm Uramin.

In France, a formal investigation does not automatically lead to a trial but often does.

Lauvergeon has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and has said that asset depreciations at Uramin were partly due to the collapse of uranium prices after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan in March 2011.

Areva has had to write down billions of euros on Uramin, which contributed to years of losses and eventually wiped out its equity, leading to a state rescue package early this year.

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