28 Dec 2011

Stakeholder in New Caledonia nickel plant keen to sell its share

8:59 am on 28 December 2011

The French nuclear energy giant Areva says it's in exclusive talks with state investment fund FSI on selling its stake in the Eramet mining company, a major player in a massive nickel plant in New Caledonia.

Areva, which holds a 26 percent stake in the French mining company, said earlier this month that it wanted to sell more than 1.2 billion in assets as part of a major restructuring and cost-cutting drive.

FSI, which looked into buying the Eramet stake from Areva in 2009-2010, said it had resumed talks with Areva on acquiring the stake.

The French state views the Eramet stake, worth more than 784 million US dollars according to the current market value of its shares, as strategic due to its strong presence in New Caledonia.

According to the Les Echos business newspaper the SMSP mining company led by supporters of independence for New Caledonia have also sent Areva an offer for the shares in Eramet.

Areva warned earlier in December its 2011 operating loss may top more than 2.1 billion US dollars as the Fukushima nuclear disaster hit the value of its mining assets.