French electric utility firm EDF has signed a $2.2bn agreement with nuclear group Areva to acquire a majority stake of up to 75% in the latter’s reactor business, Areva NP.

The deal is part of Areva’s plan to settle its financial obligations by 2017, and is likely to be concluded in the second half of 2016.

Areva intends to divest €400m worth of assets and raise €3.4bn in order to fund €7bn in expenditure.

In addition, EDF will be looking for partners to sell a minority stake in Areva NP; however, the firm aims to retain up to 75% of its stake in the nuclear unit, if potential joint venture partners cannot be finalised.

"The firm aims to retain up to 75% of its stake in the nuclear unit, if potential joint venture partners cannot be finalised."

EDF chief Jean-Bernard Lévy was quoted the Wall Street Journal as saying: "If we don’t find other partners we could end up with 75%, but we think that after preliminary contacts we had and after potential partners have shown interest and Areva NP is a wonderful company…we think we will reach a tripartite situation."

Lévy was quoted by Reuters as saying: "We expect that we will end up with a tripartite situation in which EDF owns 51%, Areva 25%, and one or more partners the rest."

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The French energy giant plans to set-up a joint venture to support the deal, with a focus on designing and marketing new nuclear reactors.

"In accordance with the guidelines set by the French Government, this new collaboration between EDF and Areva will bring an improved efficiency of our cooperation and increases the chances of success of our major international nuclear projects," Lévy added.

The transaction is, however, dependent on the progress checks of a nuclear reactor vessel built by Areva for an EDF facility in western France. The evaluation checks were initiated as the state-controlled regulator EDF identified faults, reports Bloomberg.