* Some EDF unions propose EDF offer “New Model” EPR to UK
* Internal EDF report raises doubts on HPC feasibility
* EDF’s RTE grid unit head calls for capital boost
By Geert De Clercq
PARIS, Feb 14 (Reuters) - French EDF has not put the investment decision for its plan to build two nuclear reactors in Hinkley Point, Britain, on the agenda for its board meeting on Monday, a source familiar with the situation told Reuters.
The state-owned utility’s board is set to focus on the firm’s 2015 earnings - which will be released on Tuesday - despite press speculation about an imminent decision on Hinkley.
EDF CEO Jean-Bernard Levy said in October EDF would decide on the UK project “soon”, but has let investment decision deadlines slip repeatedly since the project was first announced in October 2013.
The same source also said that a new internal report by Yannick d‘Escatha, former head of French state nuclear agency CEA, raises serious doubts about whether the Hinkley Point C project could be realised on schedule. The project’s 18 billion pound (23.21 billion euros) budget is bigger than EDF’s 22.5 billion euro market value.
EDF’s unions, which have six seats on the utility’s 18-member board, are against the UK project and have said they would vote against it.
The source said some unions and EDF insiders are proposing that EDF and its Chinese partner CGN postpone the plan by a few years and offer the UK government to build European Pressurised Reactors (EPR) “New Model”, instead of the current model.
Two EPRs under construction in Finland and France are years behind schedule and billions over budget and EDF - which is buying the reactor division of EPR designer Areva - is developing a simplified, easier-to-build version.
EDF declined all comment.
French weekly Le Journal du Dimanche (JDD) reported that because of Hinkley Point and other challenges, several EDF managers consider that EDF’s target of becoming cash flow positive by 2018 is “untenable”.
EDF borrows money every year just to pay dividend and aims to become cash-flow positive after dividend payment by 2018.
The JDD also quoted the chief executive of EDF’s grid unit RTE Francois Brottes as saying that RTE wants to take the opportunity to boost its capital as EDF considers selling up to 49 percent of its 100 percent RTE stake to state-owned bank Caisse des Depots (CDC). Minister Emmanuel Macron said earlier this month that CDC might buy a stake in RTE.
“We want to be able to react to any consolidation movement in the European electricity networks industry,” the JDD quoted Brottes as saying.
JDD said RTE might need a one billion euro capital boost. (1 euro = 0.7755 pounds) (Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Stephen Powell)