July 3, 2012 / 12:06 AM / 7 years ago

GDF to invest in Belgian nuclear plants if guarantees-CEO

ROCHEFORT EN YVELINES, France, July 3 (Reuters) - Should Belgium decide to extend the lifespan of GDF Suez’s nuclear plants, the Paris-based utility would only invest in them if it had a guarantee of profitability over 10 years, Chief Executive Gerard Mestrallet said on Monday.

The group is expected to significantly trim its 47-year old nuclear business now that its only showroom, Belgium, is gradually wrapping up its reliance on the energy form and with nuclear prospects in the French utility’s home market dimming.

“If the government decides to shut the plants, we shut the plants, we’re ready. If it wants to extend the plants’ lifespan, we have to invest - one billion euros for the three reactors, even a bit more - and for us it will be like any rational investment,” Mestrallet told reporters late on Monday on the sidelines of a seminar outside Paris.

“If we invest, it will be for 10 years, so we look at the guarantee and visibility over 10 years. If it’s not the case, we won’t invest and therefore the plants’ (lifespan) will not be extended,” he said.

“For us, it’s an investment like any other,” he added.

GDF Suez runs seven reactors on two sites in Belgium through its Belgian unit Electrabel. The two nuclear plants accounted for about 8.5 percent of the group’s earnings before interest taxes and amortisation (EBITDA) in 2011.

It said it will reveal its new nuclear strategy this summer after the new Belgian government says in July the pace at which it will cut its reliance on nuclear energy, a source that secured 57 percent of the country’s electricity supply in 2011. (Reporting by Michel Rose and Benjamin Mallet)

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