Greenpeace files state aid complaint with EU over EDF recapitalization

The logo of Electricite de France (EDF) is seen at the entrance of the nuclear power plant as steam rises from the cooling towers in Nogent-sur-Seine, France, October 20, 2016. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) - Greenpeace is filing a complaint with the European Commission arguing that the French government’s recapitalization of state-controlled EDF amounts to illegal state aid for the utility’s plan to build nuclear plants in Hinkley Point, Britain.

Greenpeace said the 3 billion euro ($3.33 billion) capital injection for EDF EDF.PA in March, plus 3.8 billion euros of foregone dividends since 2015 - the state leaves money in EDF by taking a share dividend instead of a cash dividend - are incompatible with European Union competition law.

“Instead of acting like a smart investor, the state is providing unconditional support to EDF and its nuclear projects that threaten the health of the company, notably Hinkley Point. There is no economic logic,” said Greenpeace France legal campaigner Laura Monnier.

EDF declined to comment.

The company has said in the past that the capital increase, its cost cuts and its asset sales are part of a broader plan to strengthen the company’s equity and to finance its growth, including Hinkley Point, the upgrade of its French nuclear park, and its investments in renewables and smart meters.

The EU has investigated and cleared the French state's capital increase and financial rescue package for nuclear group Areva AREVA.PA, and has raised no objections over the recapitalization of EDF.

($1 = 0.8998 euros)

Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta