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Market: The State submits its offer at €12 per share to renationalise EDF


PARIS (Reuters) – The State on Tuesday tabled its takeover offer at a price of 12 euros per share for the approximately 16% of EDF’s capital that it does not yet hold, kicking off a renationalisation complete, supposed to allow him to carry out the projects entrusted to the electrician against a backdrop of the fight against climate change and soaring energy prices.

The price is identical to that unveiled on July 19 during the detailed presentation by the government of the project for the total renationalization of the company.

The State undertakes “irrevocably” to acquire at a unit price of 12.00 euros all the shares it does not hold, specified the Financial Markets Authority in a notice. It also offers a unit price of 15.52 euros on existing 2024 “ocean” bonds.

The offer should run from November 10 to December 8 next, according to a timetable provided by the State in a press release detailing the operation.

EDF shares, which have been trading just below 12 euros since the indicative offer price was announced in July, closed on Tuesday at 11.9550 euros on the Paris Stock Exchange.

With this operation estimated at just over 9.6 billion euros, the State should have free rein to carry out the vast project of renewing the French nuclear fleet announced in February by Emmanuel Macron.

The President of the Republic has instructed EDF, already heavily in debt and facing production cuts due to corrosion problems on certain reactors, with the construction of six new next-generation reactors (EPR2), with the possibility of eight additional reactors .

The objective is both to fight against climate change, nuclear being considered a low-carbon energy, and to guarantee the security of energy supplies for France, while Russia has almost reduced its deliveries to zero. supply of gas to Europe following sanctions against it due to the war in Ukraine, causing energy prices to soar.

AVOID “EQUITY MARKET VOLATILITY”

“The climate emergency and the geopolitical situation impose strong decisions to ensure the independence and energy sovereignty of France, including that of being able to plan and invest in the very long term the means of production, transport and distribution of electricity,” the state said in a statement Tuesday.

“(A) situation where the State would be the sole shareholder of EDF would make it possible in particular to fully establish the sovereign and critical nature of the most sovereign activities of carbon-free electricity production (in particular electricity of nuclear origin (.. .)”, according to the document.

“In particular, this would make it possible to engage the company and its balance sheet in long-term projects that are sometimes incompatible with the shorter-term expectations of private investors, and without being exposed to the volatility of the equity markets.”

Complete renationalization would also “facilitate decision-making and strategic management of the Company”, also argued the State.

According to a report released by Matignon a few days after the presidential announcements in February, the total construction cost of six EPR2s, in a median scenario and on the basis of the commissioning of a first reactor “on the horizon 2037”, stands at some 51.7 billion euros.

The government now hopes to launch the construction of a first EPR2 before the end of Emmanuel Macron’s five-year term in May 2027, with the commercial commissioning of a first new generation reactor from 2035-2036.

France currently only has one EPR, in Flamanville (Manche), whose construction launched in 2007 has continued to cause delays and additional costs. Start-up of the reactor, initially planned for 2012, is now expected in June 2023.

THE HERCULE PROJECT IS “NO LONGER RELEVANT”

To carry out this vast project, Emmanuel Macron has also chosen a new CEO for EDF, Luc Rémont, whose appointment, which must still be validated by Parliament, was announced on September 29.

While EDF was introduced on the stock market in 2005 at a price of 33 euros per share, the price proposed by the State for its complete renationalization has upset some shareholders, in particular the group’s employees.

The latter, grouped within an association called “Energie en actions”, once again deplored on Tuesday having to bear the cost of the decisions taken by the government to protect customers from a surge in the price of electricity – measures which made the title of EDF plunge and for which the energy company claims 8.3 billion euros in compensation.

In parallel with this renationalisation, the State announced on Tuesday that the Hercule project to reorganize EDF was “no longer relevant” and that “no decision has been taken at this stage with regard to reforms of the model business or organization of the group”.

The project must still receive the green light from the AMF, within three weeks, after an opinion from the company’s board of directors, which will be formulated on the basis of the report of an independent expert.

(Written by Bertrand Boucey, edited by Jean-Stéphane Brosse and Nicolas Delame)

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