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Areva has room to sell more Canadian assets

A one hundred tonne Caterpillar truck descends to the bottom of the Sue E open pit uranium mine at Areva Resources Canada's McClean Lake site July 16, 2007 in McClean Lake, Canada.

DAVID BOILY/Getty Images

There's a decent chance that the sale of Areva's stake in the Millennium uranium development to Cameco Corp. isn't its last within Canada's border.

Back in December, the French nuclear energy powerhouse put forward a new strategic plan, dubbed "Action 2016," after the firm announced that it posted an operating loss last year. This plan "relies on decisive strategic choices" that incorporate "selectivity in capital spending" and disposing of up to €1.2-billion in assets to raise cash.

Selling the Millennium stake will raise $150-million, and late on Thursday the firm also announced the sale of its 26 per cent interest in Eramet SA, a nickel producer, to an investment fund for €776-million. After converting both sales to euros, they total €888-million, leaving over €300-million worth of room to do more sales.

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Should more arise, Versant analyst Rob Chang wouldn't be surprised if they came from projects that are far from production, such as Midwest and Josie in Canada. He also noted that these are also within just four kilometres of Rio Tinto's recently acquired Roughrider deposit and Fission Energy's Waterbury Lake, so there are logical buyers.

Mr. Chang particularly notes that Rio Tinto would be a logical acquirer because what the uranium assets the mining giant currently owns do not have enough critical mass to "move the needle."

But while Areva could sell more, don't think that they're down and out in Canada. The firm still owns about 30 per cent of the McArthur River mine and 37 per cent of the Cigar Lake project, which is the world's largest undeveloped uranium deposit.

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About the Author
Reporter and Streetwise columnist

Tim Kiladze is a business reporter with The Globe and Mail. Before crossing over to journalism, he worked in equity capital markets at National Bank Financial and in fixed-income sales and trading at RBC Dominion Securities. Tim graduated from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism and also earned a Bachelor in Commerce in finance from McGill University. More

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