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Nuke group Areva trims ambitions post-Fukushima

Nuke group Areva trims ambitions post-Fukushima
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French state-controlled nuclear reactor maker Areva is trying to talk up its future even as it announced plans to cut jobs, rein in investments and sell assets.

The turnaround plan is aimed at returning it to profit after a massive financial loss this year.

Areva’s new Chief Executive Luc Oursel expressed confidence in future sales saying demand is still there for its new generation reactors.

“Regarding the new reactors, some say that the nuclear market has stopped. I want to say it’s quite the contrary,” Oursel said.

In the meantime Areva has announced a 1.6 billion euro loss this year. It will reduce investment spending by a third, and cut up to one-quarter of its 6,000 staff in Germany, where the government is closing down all nuclear power plants.

In France, unions expressed anger at the moves. Cedric Noyer of Force Ouvrière said: “As well as these cuts, there will be salary freezes in the coming years. In 2012, and also in 2013.”

Bruno Blanchon of the CGT union added: “There is no way my union will accept job cuts, or the announced salary freeze.”

Areva, the biggest player in an industry hard hit by Japan’s Fukushima disaster, stressed its new generation reactors meet international safety standards that were raised in the wake of that catastrophe

But safety concerns are not its only problem. There have been cost overruns and delays at reactors it is building in France and Finland.

And in its main market France, Francois Hollande, the leading socialist candidate in next year’s presidential elections, has promised to cut the country’s dependence on nuclear power.