EDF can breathe. The electrician yesterday announced the settlement of its dispute with Constellation Energy, its American partner, thus avoiding loss of several hundreds of millions of dollars in the United States. In record time - weeks-, group in convinced Constellation to cancel an option that would have forced him to buy her eleven old thermal power for a price much higher than their market value. Are they worth more than $ 1 billion approximately, against a price of 2 billion registered in the contract.
A fragile position
At first glance surprising, this device had been implemented in 2008 by EDF to Constellation a lifeline in a new liquidity crisis. The American élecricien was bankrupt. Since then, it has restated its financial position, but he was tempted to exercise this option until December 31 to achieve added value.
The agreement announced yesterday is neither more nor less a divorce. It provides on the one hand that EDF buys Constellation its 50 stake in their joint venture Uni-Star, intended to develop new nuclear power stations in the United States. Constellation, which was more interested, "is no longer in the middle of the road", welcomes Thomas Piquemal, Chief Financial Officer of EDF. On the other hand, the French will transfer a 1.7 stake in Constellation, retaining more than 6.7 of the capital of the American electrician. In total, the agreement cost it about $ 250 million.
Constellation has agreed to give up his option for the relatively low price, if he was in a delicate negotiating position. Indeed, EDF also owns 50 of a second joint venture with existing nuclear power plants of American society. This structure supplies Constellation nuclear power for the delivery of its customers in the retail market. But a decisive contract between the electrician and the joint venture was due late 2014. Beyond that, the American had no insurance to the benefit of this electricity. It was sufficient to EDF to block the signing of a new contract to cut the current... "The terror of Constellation was to do nothing have in 2015", according to a source close to negotiations.
Find a new partner
"This agreement is better that expected, estimated Per Lekander, analyst at UBS. EDF to avoid losses. "The Group also said he spent not additional provisions to those of 1.1 billion euros spent last. Yesterday, his title was 0.74. The Constellation retreated to 0.67.
The Habs electrician now has free hand to participate in the revival of the atom in the United States - if it really decides to participate. "It dealt with the Constellation record," said Thomas Piquemal. Now, we all back flat. "The Group intends to maintain its partnership with Areva in the United States, but wants to ensure that the EPR reactor will be competitive. And, on the merits, the things are open: "We have not taken the decision to build reactors", recalled the Financial Director. Everything will depend on market conditions (evolution of prices, demand, unconventional gas...), of the regulation for nuclear power at the federal level and in Maryland, where UniStar develops its EPR project, and loan guarantees granted by the U.S. Government.
If it continues its projects, EDF will have to find a new American partner, a stranger could not operate only nuclear power plants in the United States. But time does not press because it can continue to negotiate with the Government to obtain federal guarantees without even having a partner.
Thibaut Madelin lighting on lesechos.fr/tvlesechos.fr/tv