UPDATE 1-Areva says Astorg drops purchase of measurement unit
PARIS, June 28 (Reuters) - French nuclear group Areva said private equity firm Astorg Partners has decided to abandon the purchase of its U.S. nuclear radiation measurement unit, a setback to the reactor maker's debt reduction efforts.
Sources close to the negotiations told Reuters in October that Astorg's offer valued the measurement unit - Connecticut-based Canberra - at 310-350 million euros ($141.08 billion) but final terms were never announced.
Areva said Astorg dropped out of the deal because no suitable financing was available.
But a source familiar with the situation disputed that, telling Reuters the credit arm of private equity firm Blackstone had been ready to finance the deal through a unitranche loan - an alternative to syndicated leveraged loans mainly used by small- and medium sized borrowers.
Astorg declined further comment on the deal.
The transaction, which was announced on April 3, had been expected to close in the first half of this year and was part of Areva's ongoing asset disposal plan aimed at reducing debt to allow it to invest elsewhere.
Areva said on Friday that its 1.2 billion euro ($1.6 billion) disposal target for 2012-13 still stood. The company said in April that the sale of Canberra would enable it to "greatly exceed" that target.
Canberra generated sales of around 250 millions euros last year and employs 1,050 people. ($1 = 0.7691 euros)
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