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Job cuts in pipeline as French nuclear giant Areva posts record losses

media Areva's headquarters in Paris's La Défense business district Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes

French nuclear giant Areva suffered record losses of 4.8 billion euros in 2014, it confirmed on Wednesday. Bosses said job cuts were possible but said they would try to avoid compulsory lay-offs.

"The scale of the net loss for 2014 illustrates the two-fold challenge confronting Areva: continuing stagnation of the nuclear operations, lack of competitiveness and difficulties in managing the risks inherent in large projects," chief executive Philippe Knoche said in a statement.

Areva, which is 87 per cent state-owned, had forecast losses of 4.9 billion euros but the slightly lower 4.8-billion-euro final figure was little consolation.

It has been badly hit by delays in building the Olkiluoto 3 nuclear plant in Finland and has had to pay impairment charges tied to the modernisation of its uranium conversion plant, the Comurhex II project in France.

Writedowns in the value of its assets and losses on projects came to 4.35 billion euros and the company has suffered from a move away from nuclear power following the Fukushima disaster in Japan in 2011.

Areva, which has not posted a profit since 2010, announced in October that it would cut investments and step up sales of non-strategic assets.

Knoche said that he could not exclude job cuts and would try to ensure they would be voluntary, while Labour Minister François Rebsamen told France Inter radio that compulsory redundancies should be avoided.

Both men raised the possibility of state-owned electricity company EDF taking a stake in Areva.

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