EDF CEO Jean-Bernard Levy knew the UK government wanted to take more time to review the Hinkley Point nuclear contract before the French utility's board voted to approve the investment. Axel Threlfall reports.
EDF has egg on its face. The French utility saying last week that it would build a big new nuclear power station in Britain. Only to discover one day later that London wasn't sure if it wanted to go ahead. Now it turns out UK prime minister Theresa May had told the French president days earlier that she wanted a delay Reuters utilities correspondent Heert de Clercq says there was a major communication failure: SOUNDBITE (English) REUTERS UTILITIES CORRESPONDENT, HEERT DE CLERCQ, SAYING: "Theresa May communicated with the French president, then the French president communicated with his prime minister, and presumably the industry minister, who then is in charge of EDF. So somewhere in this line either Hollande did not understand Theresa May's message clearly enough, or he did understand it and communicated it to the industry minister, but then this information did not make its way to EDF." The communication failure all the stranger as EDF is state controlled. Paris owns an 85 percent stake in the firm. Now the bigger question is whether to proceed with the Hinkley Point project - estimated to cost about 18 billion pounds. The plant would generate about seven percent of Britain's electricity. For France it could be even more important: SOUNDBITE (English) REUTERS UTILITIES CORRESPONDENT, HEERT DE CLERCQ, SAYING: "At the moment the French nuclear industry is working on the last major nuclear plant that they're building in France ... So if Hinkley Point is not built, the French nuclear industry, which employs about 200 thousand people will have no work, so it is a very big issue for the French government." London due to decide later this year whether Hinkley point will go ahead. Critics say it's too expensive, and will burden UK consumers with needlessly expensive energy. But with so much riding on it, many suspect it's too big to fail.