Siemens currently holds a 34-percent stake in Areva NP, estimated to be worth €2 billion ($2.6 billion) A source close to the matter said the decision to pull out was not for “political” reasons.
A Siemens spokesman declined to comment on the matter but added that the company’s supervisory board would meet on Monday to discuss the issue. A spokeswoman for Areva too refused to comment, except to say the company would buy the 34 percent stake if Siemens decided to sell it. Areva would have three years to do so, she said.
A 2001 shareholders’ agreement which governs Areva NP gives Siemens an option to sell its shares to Areva which specializes in the design and construction of nuclear power plants as well as fuel supply and maintenance.
According to French business daily Les Echos, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called her French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy to discuss the deal. Sarkozy has made no bones about the fact that he wants Areva to buy the stake in the joint venture with the aim of creating a French national champion based on Areva, engineering group Alstom and construction group Bouygues.
Areva Siemens started in the nuclear power industry in 1980 when it worked together with French group Framatome to develop a third generation nuclear reactor (EPR). In 2001, Siemens and Areva grouped their nuclear activities from France, Germany and the United States into one company, Areva NP.
The German government has approved plans to mothball the last of its 17 nuclear reactors by about 2020. Polls show a majority of people in Western Europe’s most populous country oppose nuclear power.