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World

France denies delay sought for EDF restructuring talks

  • EDF shares fell over 18% on the report but trimmed the losses to be down around 14%
  • This negotiation is underway and in any case no additional time to finalise it has been requested
25 Jan, 2021

PARIS: The European Commission did not request extra time for talks on a planned restructuring of French state-controlled energy firm EDF, a source in the French finance ministry said on Monday.

French broadcaster BFM Business reported on Monday that the European Commission wanted a further six months of talks because it could not give a green light to the restructuring plan as it stands now.

EDF shares fell over 18% on the report but trimmed the losses to be down around 14% at 1503 GMT on Monday after the finance ministry source's comments.

"This negotiation is underway and in any case no additional time to finalise it has been requested," the source said, adding that the ongoing talks between Paris and Brussels were in-depth and maintained on a regular basis.

The restructuring plan, backed by French President Emmanuel Macron, would involve separating out EDF's capital-intensive nuclear power division from other parts of its business.

The European Commission has a say on the reform because the plan requires a green light from it as the European Union's anti-trust regulator.

French trade unions have asked President Emmanuel Macron to drop the project, fearing it could threaten job security and lead to the group being dismantled.

The French state, which holds a stake of around 83.7% in EDF's share capital, wants to ensure that the group has sufficient financial resources for its nuclear business and for developing renewable energy sources.

The BFM Business report denied by the finance ministry said a decision on the restructuring may not come until 2023.

A source at EDF and a union source said nothing had been announced internally. One source said a postponement of the reform and reorganisation to 2023 would be "worrying" for the group's finances but it could probably hold out until then if the French state continued to receive its dividends in shares.

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