Astorg takes over French nuclear subsidiary

The Paris-based firm has acquired the nuclear measurement unit of French group Areva, as part of a programme aimed at deleveraging the state-owned company by €1.2bn.

Paris-based Astorg Partners has reached an agreement with Areva to acquire Canberra, the nuclear measurement unit of the French energy group.

The transaction, subject to regulatory clearance, marks the end of the exclusive negotiations entered by both parties in October 2012. It is expected to close by the end of June 2013.

Areva, France’s state-owned nuclear company, provides power reactors and manages the nuclear fuel cycle for a number of utilities worldwide. The group employs 48,000 staff, and generated revenues and EBITDA of respectively €9.4 billion and €1 billion in 2012. Connecticut-based Canberra is its nuclear radiation measurement unit. It had sales of €250 million last year, and counts 1,050 staff.

The divesture is part of Areva’s ongoing asset disposal plan, which aims to deleverage the company by more than €1.2 billion over the 2012 to 2013 period. The group’s indebtedness has risen over the last couple of years in the wake of a number of acquisitions by the group, including its investment in Canada-based uranium company Uramin.

The purchase, completed in 2007 at the height of a bubble in uranium prices, led Areva to take a €1.46 billion write-down on the asset at the end of 2011, and is seen as having played a major part in the departure of its chief executive after 10 years at the helm of the company.

The proceeds from the sale will also be used to finance Areva’s development and safety investment program, the company said in a statement.

Astorg is investing from its Fund V, which closed in 2011 on €1.05 billion. Founded in 1998, the firm has around €3 billion under management.