Areva to slash at least 2,700 jobs: sources
France's nuclear giant Areva will cut at least 2,700 jobs and slash planned investments by 40 percent to generate at least €500 million ($674 million) in savings per year by 2013, sources told AFP on Monday.
Some 1,000 to 1,200 jobs are to be cut in France, although no industrial sites are likely to be closed unless reactor construction projects are scrapped, under the strategic action plan to be approved December 12th, according to internal company documents obtained by AFP.
Most of the planned cuts are in support functions. The company, which is 87-percent owned by the French state, employs 28,000 people in France.
Areva categorically denied that it was planning to cut any jobs in France, as did Energy Minister Eric Besson.
"No job losses in France are being planned by Areva," Besson said in a statement, adding the sector "is completely mobilized to maintain the leadership of France in nuclear energy."
Economy Minister François Baroin meanwhile said he will meet with Areva CEO Luc Oursel on Tuesday to talk about the "employment situation."
Hailing the company's denial that it was planning to cut jobs in France, Baroin said in a statement: "the goal of improving profitability that the state shareholder has given to Areva... will not be pursued to the detriment of employment in France."
In Germany, which has decided to abandon nuclear energy, Areva expects to cut 1,300 jobs, or about 20 percent of its workforce there, according to the sources.
It plans to close one factory in Germany, reduce staff at two others and sell a fourth.
In the United States, fuel production sites at Lynchburg, Virginia and Erwin, Tennessee will be closed, resulting in 200 job cuts.
A similar site in Belgium will also be closed, with 150 jobs to be cut.
The strategic plan will slash investments by around 40 percent, from the planned €12 billion through 2016 to "a level more compatible to the group's financial situation, something on the order of €7 billion," said one of the sources.
The objective of the strategic plan is to generate €750 million in savings by 2015, with €500 million in savings beginning in 2013, said the sources.
Areva also plans to sell many of its assets, including its 26 percent stake in mining group Eramet which at current market valuations is worth around €600 million.
Also to go are a 63 percent stake in Canadian gold mine operator La Mancha (€160 million) and its Canberra radiation measurement unit.
The retrenchment was decided in June after the arrival of Luc Oursel as the company's new chief executive given the changed outlook for nuclear energy following Japan's Fukushima accident, the sources said.