Sunday 8 May 2016 10:53 pm

EDF investors to debate Hinkley plant at shareholder meeting this week

EDF Energy's shareholders will question the company’s management over plans for the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant this week.

EDF will host a combined shareholders’ meeting on Wednesday where chief executive Jean-Bernard Levy is expected to make a statement on the plant and take questions from investors.

The final investment decision on the £18bn project to construct new reactors in Bridgwater, Somerset has been pushed back until September, casting doubt over whether the plans will go ahead. EDF, which is 85 per cent French state-owned, has yet to outline how it will fund the project.

Read more: France still committed to "very important" Hinkley Point

Last week it emerged EDF’s former chief financial officer had fought for the final investment decision on the nuclear plant to be delayed by at least three years.

“In January 2015, I proposed to negotiate a three-year delay with our client because we reasoned that it would weigh too heavily on EDF’s balance sheet,” Thomas Piquemal told a French parliament committee hearing. “Who would bet 60 to 70 per cent of his equity on a [European pressurised reactor] technology that has not yet proven that it can work and which takes 10 years to build.”

Following Piquemal’s resignation, EDF announced a €4bn (£3.2bn) capital increase and the government has agreed to forego cash dividends for two years, generating an estimated €7bn in extra capital.

Read more: EDF's Hinkley could be threatened by EU competition law

Meanwhile EDF’s engineering partner, Nuclear group Areva, has been battling regulatory problems relating to nuclear plant components. Areva’s share price is down by almost 50 per cent in 12 months.

Concerns have also been raised over the cyber security strength of the plant. In October, it was reported that the UK’s surveillance agency, GCHQ, was seeking special access to the Chinese companies involved in any nuclear project in the UK in order to allay fears.

Hinkley Point is currently scheduled to be operational by 2025.

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