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Britain’s Plan to Delay $24 Billion Nuclear Deal was Known to EDF Boss: Reuters

Britain’s Plan to Delay $24 Billion Nuclear Deal was Known to EDF Boss: Reuters
In a letter to top executives of the company, before the French utility company EDF’s board voted to approve the investment, its Chief Executive Jean-Bernard Levy knew the British government wanted to take more time to review the Hinkley Point nuclear contract, reports Reuters.
Reuters reports that according to several sources with direct knowledge of the proceedings, Britain’s plan to delay its decision on the $24 billion project to build the power plant in England was not informed to the board members at their meeting on July 28.
Hours after the board’s approval, the government of new British Prime Minister Theresa May said Britain wanted to give the plans further consideration. It was expected that a contract would be signed on July 29. The British government postponed its final decision until early autumn.
He had not been aware at the time of the board meeting that the British government wanted more time to review the contract, Levy - who is also chairman of the board - had said in comments to reporters at French state-controlled EDF's first-half earnings release on July 29.
The French state "had warned us that in light of her very recent arrival, the new British prime minister had asked for 'a few days' before deciding on the project", Levy said in a letter emailed to EDF's executive committee late on Tuesday this week, when the chief executive had called the board meeting on July 21.
Without calling into question the project, and without specifying the date when the contract could be signed", Levy said that late on July 27, the night before the board meeting, he had been informed that May wanted "a bit more time.

He added that the Chinese energy minister - who had been invited to attend the ceremony - had cancelled his plane ticket at the last minute and that EDF cancelled a contract signing ceremony planned for July 29 in Somerset, south-west England.
"When the board voted, on the afternoon of July 28, we (management) therefore knew that the ceremony would not take place the next day," Levy wrote.
EDF, speaking on behalf of the company and Levy, declined to comment on the letter or the board proceedings, reports Reuters.
While Britain would pay a minimum price for the power generated by the plant for 35 years, responsibility for the $24 billion project's construction costs rests with EDF along with its Chinese partner China General Nuclear, which holds a one third stake in the project.
Alleging that the project was too financially risky and would crimp EDF's ability to invest in renewable, one board member resigned on the day of the board's vote. The project jeopardises the firm's survival and was too big, say EDF's unions.EDF's finance chief resigned over the project earlier this year.
Levy and the government had withheld essential information that could have changed the outcome of the vote, some of the board members felt according to Reuters, after the board approved EDF's investment by 10 votes to seven on July 28.
The French state owns 85 percent of EDF and sets its industrial strategy.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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