EdF nationalisation necessary for France: Minister

The full nationalisation of French utility EdF is a necessary decision for the country's energy independence, economy minister Bruno Le Maire said today.

"Nationalising EdF would give us all the chances to be more independent in the years to come in terms of energy. It is a strategic, strong and necessary decision for the country," Le Maire said. His words come after French prime minister Elisabeth Borne on Wednesday evening announced that the state plans to hold 100pc of EdF's capital. The utility is currently held at 84pc by the French state, but the timeline of the nationalisation has not yet been specified.

EdF has been hit by financial difficulties since the beginning of the year, as the revision of the Arenh volume and price cap — the nuclear output it has to sell at a fixed price to competitors — could impact the firm's earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) by €7.7bn-8.4bn ($7.8bn-8.5bn), the firm estimated in January. The utility is also facing issues with the maintenance of its nuclear fleet, with availability around 50pc for the past two months. The discovery of corrosion signs on several reactors has brought prices in the power market to record highs for next winter, amid fears of insufficient nuclear generation coupled with uncertainty on gas supply.

On its side, EdF's board of directors "has taken note of the state's intention to hold 100pc of EdF's capital and will provide its full support to achieve this", the utility said on Thursday. It also launched the process of finding a successor to EdF's current chairman Jean-Bernard Levy, who is expected to resign by March 2023 at the latest but will continue exercising his functions until a successor is found.

"The agenda of the future EdF management is ramp up production as fast as possible, build six new reactors and continue its commitment to renewable energy," Le Maire added. The minister did not exclude a possible reform of EdF's functioning. President Emmanuel Macron's government in 2021 advocated for a reorganisation of EdF's activities under the "Hercules plan", aiming to separate the firm's renewable activities from its nuclear assets.