Areva narrowed its losses in the first half as cost-cutting measures and a more favourable price mix boosted the financially embattled nuclear group.

Net loss came in at €120m in the first six months ended June, from a €206m loss in the same period a year earlier, the world’s largest maker of nuclear reactors said in a statement on Thursday. Sales grew 4.4 per cent, writes Robert Williams in Paris.

Areva, which is 87 per cent owned by the French state, has been wrestling with a steep downturn in the nuclear industry following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident as well as big losses on some of its projects, including one in Finland.

Once the pride of France, the reactor designer has been negotiating a government-backed rescue package that will see it raise as much as €5bn in cash. The company is also selling a majority stake in its reactor-making division Areva NP, valued at €2.5bn, to rival French nuclear group EDF. The deal is expected to close in the second half of 2017.

But earlier this month, the European Commission launched an investigation into whether the state aid to Areva would unduly distort competition, as well as whether the group’s post-recapitalisation would be sufficiently viable to prevent needing further bail-outs.

In the event of a temporary delay, Areva said it would request a loan from its shareholder. “These transactions will be carried out in compliance with European regulations,” the company, headed by Philippe Knoche, said.

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