Siemens and AREVA to Break Up Nuclear Joint Venture

German powerhouse Siemens AG on Monday said it would shed its 34% stake in the Franco-German joint venture AREVA NP S.A.S., citing a “lack of exercising entrepreneurial influence within the joint venture” as the reason behind the move.

The company said that it would terminate the shareholders agreement for the joint venture effective Jan. 30, 2012, and sell its entire stake to the majority shareholder, French nuclear giant AREVA S.A. The terms were contractually specified, but the transaction is subject to the approval of antitrust authorities, Siemens said.

Siemens combined its nuclear business activities with French company Framatome in 2001, and it has since then held a minority share in the joint venture AREVA NP (formerly Framatome ANP).

“In the past, Siemens and Areva had a good cooperation including since 2001 the one in the joint venture Areva NP as well. However, the role as a minority shareholder considerably limits the entrepreneurial maneuverability of Siemens within the joint venture. For that reason, the Supervisory Board of Siemens AG followed a corresponding decision of the Managing Board to terminate the Shareholders Agreement for the joint venture at the earliest date possible,” Siemens said in a statement.

Siemens supplies the conventional island for nuclear power plants for AREVA NP and joint customers. As well as continuing to offer those products to the nuclear power plant market, Siemens said it wants to continue the “good cooperation” with AREVA concerning operational instrumentation and control systems. The company said it would further evaluate “all available options to continue its commitment in nuclear power plant business.”

“We want to play an active role in shaping developments—and this also applies to the nuclear energy market. That’s why we’ve taken the initiative. In view of global climate change and the increasing power demand worldwide, for us nuclear energy remains an essential part of a sustainable energy mix,” said Peter Löscher, president and CEO of Siemens.

Forbes has speculated that the German conglomerate won’t remain single too long: “[I]t’s now widely expected to look for another partner to help find its own way in the industry. Although a tie-up between Siemens and Russia’s Atomenergoprom is seen as the likeliest outcome, Siemens’ old squeeze Areva need not quake in its boots just yet.”

AREVA issued a brief statement on the matter, saying that the procedure had no impact on the status of AREVA NP employees or on their management, nor would it affect the technological, industrial, and commercial assets of AREVA NP, which will become a wholly owned AREVA subsidiary come January 2012.

Source: Siemens, Forbes, AREVA