This Wednesday, the Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne, announced the government's intention to renationalize 100% of the energy company EDF, heavily in debt and challenged to launch a new nuclear program.

“I confirm to you today the intention of the State to hold 100% of the capital of EDF.

This development will enable EDF to strengthen its capacity to carry out ambitious and essential projects for our energy future as soon as possible,” declared the head of government in her general policy statement before the National Assembly.

Seventeen years after the opening of its capital and its IPO at the end of 2005, the electrician remains largely public, owned by the State at nearly 84%, by employees who own 1% and by institutional shareholders. and individuals for the remaining 15%.

But the group is heavily indebted and faced with heavy financial burdens, present and future.

The energy company has suffered setbacks, particularly in the construction of its new reactor model, the EPR being installed in Flamanville (Manche), which is more than ten years late and whose cost has almost quadrupled.

Shut down reactors

A corrosion problem is also affecting part of its fleet (12 reactors out of 56), which this year forced it to lower its production target several times.

In May, EDF, whose maintenance program was also postponed by Covid-19, thus estimated that the drop in its nuclear production planned for 2022 should cost it 18.5 billion euros in gross operating surplus.

Its financial situation has also deteriorated with the government's decision to force it to sell more cheap electricity to its competitors, to contain the electricity bill of households and small professionals.

A "strategic" company

Recalling the attachment of the French to this “strategic” company, Elisabeth Borne declared during the 8 p.m. television news on TF1 that the government wanted to “have full control of this company and (…) give it the financial margins for investments what is expected of it”.

The group intends to launch a program of new reactors, known as EPR2, while continuing to deploy in solar and wind power.

“The energy transition goes through nuclear,” insisted Ms. Borne, taking up the position adopted this winter by President Emmanuel Macron.

The Head of State announced in February the construction of six EPRs, the first commissioning of which is expected in 2035 or 2037, with an estimated cost of more than 50 billion euros.

Union fears

“EDF's problems are above all under-capitalization and under-remuneration.

It is not because we are renationalizing that we are strengthening EDF's equity structure, it does not solve its structural financial problem, ”said Alexandre Grillat, of the CFE Energies Federation, on Wednesday.

"Nationalizing the company with the legal status of a public limited company is incoherent," says Sébastien Menesplier, of the CGT Mines-Energie.

The union calls to make it an Epic (public establishment of an industrial nature), to "take electricity out of the market" and "stop the Arenh device" (device for the low-cost sale of electricity to competition) .

Conversely, he fears that this renationalization is the prelude to "a new reform project", after the long battle waged around the restructuring project carried by the government and the management, at this stage suspended.

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  • Economy

  • EDF

  • energy

  • Elisabeth Borne

  • Nuclear

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