French nuclear group Areva could form a nuclear engineering and design joint venture with a Chinese counterpart before the end of this year, according to a company executive.

“We will soon sign an agreement with the Chinese nuclear industry to join our engineering and design forces,” Marc Andolenko, president of Areva’s China unit told Reuters at an industry forum in Beijing.

The joint venture is expected to be for future sourcing and the design of plants in China and abroad.

Andolenko did not disclose which Chinese firm or firms would be involved in the deal.

Areva has been trying to build its business in China after losing out to Toshiba Corp’s Westinghouse Electric in the bid to supply the country’s first third generation nuclear power plant.