Shares in French nuclear giant Areva slide as chief executive Luc Oursel resigns

 
Emma Haslett
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Luc Oursel has headed Areva since 2011 (Source: Getty)

Shares in French state-controlled nuclear group Areva, which is overseeing the decommissioning and clean-up of Sellafield, slid 0.4 per cent today after its chief executive announced he has stepped down.

Luc Oursel cited health reasons, adding that "despite my very strong commitment to Areva, I have had no choice but to hand over my responsibilities at the head of the company and have chosen to take a leave of absence in order to pursue treatment".

Shares in the business, which is the world's largest nuclear company, have fallen more than 40 per cent this year, after a series of financial struggles. In 2011 it took a €2.40bn (£1.89bn) hit on an investment in an African uranium mine, while costs at its Olkiluoto 3 EPR reactor in Finland, which was followed by the Fukushima disaster in Japan, which caused governments to rethink their nuclear strategies.

At the beginning of August the company announced a €694m euro loss, causing shares to fall 20 per cent, its biggest ever one-day fall. Last month, credit ratings agency S&P put it on negative watch, putting its BBB status at risk.

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