French nuclear energy group eyes Dutch uranium firm Urenco

French nuclear energy specialist Areva is interested in buying enriched uranium company Urenco, which is partly owned by the Dutch state, the Financieele Dagblad reports on Thursday.


Sources have told the paper that state-owned Areva has approached merchant bank Nomura to try to find out if it might be able to buy at least part of Urenco.
Urenco, which has its main operations in Almelo in Overissel province, has a workforce of 3,000 and turned over €1.2bn last year, the FD says.
Nuclear weapons
A change in ownership would be politically sensitive because Urenco has a large market share in the supply of enriched uranium to nuclear power stations. But its products can also be used to make nuclear weapons, the paper points out.
The Dutch state, which owns 33% of the shares, has veto rights over any sale. The paper says Areva is after a majority stake but does not rule out a minority interest. ‘Areva is not after the dividend, its about synergy,’ one source said.
The paper says German energy firms RWE and Eon have already asked Merrill Lynch to try to dispose of their combined 33% stake and that the British government is also keen to sell its 33%. A spokesman told the FD no ‘clear decision’ has yet been taken.