CNN reports that Electricite de France is in discussions with Constellation Energy to take over half its nuclear business. Now, it shouldn't surprise anyone that the French have taken an interest in the American nuclear marketplace - they have a lot of experience in making the numbers work, which has been problematic for Constellation - and a lot of experience with nuclear energy. However, there's an interesting wrinkle here - well, actually a couple. Here's the first:
Constellation's board hasn't changed its recommendation to shareholders to vote in favor of the merger with MidAmerican, a unit of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRKA), at a shareholder meeting Dec. 23, according to the release.
That's Warren Buffett's outfit and it represents Buffett's reentry into the nuclear market after his Idaho flirtation. The link to MidAmerican is to their front page - there's a news release about the merger linked from there.
And wrinkle two:
[Electricite de France] already has a 9.5% stake in Constellation and a joint venture with the company, called UniStar Nuclear Energy, established to build and operate nuclear power plants in the U.S.
This new move by EDF represents, if nothing else, a lot of potent players getting into business together and an interesting sign of what industry is thinking about the nuclear market - especially interesting in anticipation of the Obama administration. There's been some fear about the nuclear future under Obama - and some anticipation, too, given the President-elect's desire to move the primary goal of energy policy more decidedly toward carbon reduction. So we'll take leave to wonder what EDF, owned by the French government (mostly - it's been partly privatived), knows that makes this venture a viable move.
There's a lot of activity swirling around Constellation right now, and we can't pretend to guess what happens next. But something will: let's wait and see.