'Areva to study Alstom wind deal'

The CEO of Areva today said the French state-controlled group will consider “opportunities” involving the wind-power operation of its compatriot rival and takeover-target Alstom.

The remarks by Luc Oursel to a parliamentary committee in Paris this morning are the first public confirmation by any official to suggest there is substance to reports that moving Alstom’s wind assets to Areva is being considered.

Reuters reports Oursel telling a committee examining nuclear costs that his company is not directly involved in negotiations over the fate of Alstom's energy business – which is subject to a takeover offer by GE of the US and a possible counter-bid by Siemens of Germany.

But he added: "Concerning the wind activities, if any opportunities were to arise in the future, and given Areva's ambitions in renewable energy, we would be ready to examine any possibilities.”

The prospect of folding Alstom’s wind operations into Areva to create a national offshore wind champion has been mooted several times in the past weeks as a possible sweetener for a wider acquisition by either GE or Siemens.

Oursel’s comments appear to confirm that it is at least being talked about as part of the complex discussions underway in Paris, Germany and the US over the future of Alstom’s energy interests, which span conventional, nuclear and renewable power.

The two companies have locked horns as rivals for French offshore wind contracts and both have wider ambitions in the European offshore market. Areva is not in the onshore market.

Industry observers have pointed to a wide range of strategic, financial and operational issues that would make such an arrangement highly challenging.