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EDF finance chief resigns over Hinkley Point project

French energy giant EDF has confirmed the resignation of its finance chief, Thomas Piquemal. He was reported to have great misgivings about the feasibility of building two nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point in the UK.

AFP news agency reported Thomas Piquemal had submitted his resignation because he doubted "the short-term feasibility" of an EDF plan to build two new nuclear reactors

at Hinkley Point in southwest England.

The French energy giant had agreed in October of last year to construct two European Pressurized Reactors (EPRs), third-generation nuclear reactor designs, with the state-run China General Nuclear Power Corporation taking a one-third stake in the project.

Bloomberg had earlier said Piquemal thought little of pushing ahead with the 18-billion pound (23.3-billion-euro, $24.4-billion) scheme, because in his view the project "would jeopardize EDF's financial situation."

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Two EPRs currently under construction in France and Finland are already years behind schedule and billions of euros over budget. Two more such reactors that EDF is building in China have also suffered long delays.

EDF, which is 85-percent state-owned, has had to borrow billions of euros just to pay dividends to its shareholders in recent years, and its earnings are under enormous pressure from record-low wholesale electricity prices.

The French utility needs to spend some 55 billion euros to upgrade aging nuclear plants in France. Another chunk of its finances will have to be allocated to a planned smart meter rollout in the country.

hg/hch (Reuters, AFP)

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