Before its renationalisation, EDF suffered an exceptional loss in the first half of the year
A few months before its complete renationalisation, EDF announced on Thursday that it had suffered a historic loss in the first half of 5.3 billion euros, due to the drop in nuclear electricity production, and its contribution by the state to contain the bill of the French.
This historically low production is the consequence in particular of the shutdown of 12 reactors out of 56 in France for corrosion problems, and 18 others for scheduled maintenance operations, while Europe is going through an energy crisis caused by the war in Ukraine and the drop in Russian gas supplies.
“Has there ever been a semester in EDF’s history where the figures were so negative? I doubt it very much, ”recognized its CEO Jean-Bernard Lévy during the presentation of the results.
They reflect “the difficulties encountered in nuclear production in France and to a lesser extent hydroelectricity, as well as the effect of the tariff shield put in place in France for 2022”, he specified in a press release.
The results for the full year are looking even worse than expected: the electricity producer now estimates that the drop in its nuclear production expected in 2022 will cost it no less than 24 billion euros in gross surplus (Ebitda) in 2022, compared to 18.5 billion euros previously estimated, a figure that was already extraordinary.
This estimate is on the rise “because the repurchase prices of this electric current which we have already sold and which we must repurchase, have increased”, commented Mr. Lévy, while the prices of electricity exploded in Europe.
This negative impact is added to that of 10 billion euros linked to the decision of the State to oblige EDF to sell more cheap electricity to its competitors, for the “tariff shield” proposed last autumn by the government.
The general increase in energy prices will benefit EDF to some extent, with a positive contribution to revenues reassessed at 8 billion euros over the year against 6 billion euros previously, before the impact of exceptional measures.
The surge in prices is accentuated by fears of energy supplies for next winter, which have led the French State to launch a vast energy sobriety plan in order to deal with the risk of shortages.
EDF’s turnover, on the other hand, rose sharply in the first half (+67.2%), to 66.262 billion euros, supported by the sharp rise in electricity and gas prices in Europe.
– Upcoming reorganization –
The energy company, 84% owned by the French state, will become 100% under state control in the coming months, a 9.7 billion euro operation approved this week by the National Assembly.
It is therefore a group in great difficulty that the State is preparing to renationalise, whose net financial debt, at 42.8 billion euros at the end of June, was stabilized by a capital increase of 3.1 billion euros, launched in March.
The renationalisation, via a takeover bid (OPA) of the 16% of shares not held by the State, should allow the group, despite its critical financial situation, to borrow at lower cost and to reorganize more easily.
It will need it greatly, in order to meet colossal challenges: to be the “armed arm” of the State in the greening of its energy policy and the conquest of greater sovereignty in this area.
It is only the first stage of a vast reorganization, which has revived the fears of the unions to attend a cutting of the company, fear swept away by the government.
It will be led by another CEO, expected for the start of the school year. On this subject, Mr. Lévy simply reaffirmed that this anticipated change of governance had been decided on his initiative, “so that for the major reforms of EDF to come, there will be a single pilot for the entire duration of the quinquennium which is beginning”.
With regard to nuclear production for 2022, EDF is maintaining its forecast for the moment, i.e. a range of 280 to 300 terawatt hours, a forecast “confirmed” by the validation on Wednesday by the Nuclear Safety Authority of its strategy to control the corrosion problems encountered in its nuclear fleet.
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