Areva chairman replies to former boss attacks

Reuters News
Posted: Jan 17, 2012 3:48 PM

PARIS (Reuters) - Areva Chairman Luc Oursel on Tuesday defended the nuclear power conglomerate's investigation into an acquisition overseen by his predecessor, Anne Lauvergeon, after she publicly criticized Areva and launched legal proceedings against it.

Lauvergeon filed legal proceedings against Areva over a confidential intelligence report on whether her husband, a business consultant, illegally benefited from Areva's acquisition in 2007 of miner UraMin.

She hit out at Areva on Monday, saying she had been "attacked, slandered, spied on in an unfair way" and arguing that the acquisition was needed at the time. The value of UraMin was nearly entirely written off last year.

Oursel, who replaced Lauvergeon at the helm of Areva in June, said the group, like many others, routinely retained the services of intelligence providers.

"And I can guarantee that Areva has not at any moment commissioned any illegal study by that company," Oursel said in an interview published by the French weekly Usine Nouvelle.

In the interview, Oursel said Areva wanted to retain its mining activities, even after the major write-down last year, but would be open to letting in investors.

"We want to preserve our mining operation but we are not closed to a possible capital opening if we retain strong control. If a minority partner joined, it would have to make a contribution from an industrial point of view."

(Reporting by Astrid Wendlandt; Editing by Gary Hill)