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China's CNNC may buy into French nuclear company

Areva said on Monday it had signed a memorandum of understanding for a possible partnershipwith China National Nuclear Corporation that could see the Chinese group take a minority stakein the French nuclear company.The partnership would also cover "uranium mining, front end, recycling, logistics,decommissioning and dismantling", Areva said in a statement.

The deal excludes the reactor business that French power group EDF is buying from Areva, thecompany said.

"This project offers numerous opportunities for both AREVA and CNNC," Areva ChairmanPhilippe Varin said in the statement following a ceremony in Beijing.

"Strengthening the cooperation with our Chinese partners is an integral factor for Areva's futuresuccess," said the statement, issued during a visit to China by French President FrancoisHollande.

The French government wants utility EDF and nuclear group Areva, both State-owned, to keep acombined 66 percent stake in Areva's former reactor building arm Areva NP, a governmentsource told Reuters on Oct 6.

With respective stakes of 51 percent for EDF and 15 percent for Areva, this would open the doorfor outside investors to buy into Areva NP and limit the amount of funds the French state will haveto spend on saving the nuclear firm.

After four consecutive years of losses wiped out Areva's capital, EDF said in July it had agreedto buy 51-75 percent of Areva's reactor arm Areva NP, while Areva would keep a maximum 25percent and EDF would look for other investors to invest in Areva NP.

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