The Ministry of the Economy announced Thursday to launch “immediately” the succession process for CEO Jean-Bernard Lévy, in order to “quickly” implement the renationalization desired by the government and announced on Wednesday.

“While large-scale projects will be launched by the company in the coming months, the State and Jean-Bernard Lévy have agreed to launch the process of succession of the latter at the head of EDF from now on”.

The mandate of this 67-year-old polytechnician, at the head of EDF since 2014, a remarkable duration, was to end no later than March 18, 2023, taking into account the age limit fixed by the statutes of the company.

The new CEO may however “be appointed before this deadline” to be “quickly able to implement the strategic and industrial projects announced by the President of the Republic”, according to Bercy.

“We have a feeling that the State will appoint someone who is totally subservient to it, to implement its renationalization project, the outlines of which we do not have today”, reacted Amélie Henri, national secretary CFE-Unsa energies. for EDF.

She recalled the tensions in recent months between management and the state shareholder, especially after the contribution of EDF to contain the household electricity bill.

The Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, said Thursday that he wanted “the new management of EDF to be operational from the start of the next school year”.

“It has to be someone who masters major industrial programs, but also who has a sense of compromise,” he said on Europe 1.

The principle of this early taking up of office was recorded “in agreement with Jean-Bernard Lévy”, indicated the EDF board of directors, meeting at 7 a.m. Thursday morning.

During this meeting, Mr. Lévy “insisted on the fact that it was on his initiative”, according to a source close to the board of directors.

In the meantime, “the board has renewed its confidence in Jean-Bernard Lévy, who will continue to perform his duties until the appointment of his successor”.

– Prelude to restructuring?-

“Nationalizing EDF means giving us every chance of being more independent in the years to come in terms of energy,” said the Mayor on Thursday. “It is a strong and necessary strategic decision for the country”.

The government cites “in particular the launch of the construction program for six EPR 2 nuclear reactors and EDF’s contribution to the accelerated development of renewable energies”.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne announced before the National Assembly a 100% renationalization, already mentioned in March by Emmanuel Macron.

During the board of directors on Thursday, “two possible ways” were mentioned: either by law or by a takeover offer to exit the stock market, which could go faster and be completed by the end of the year. year, according to the source close to the council.

Seventeen years after the opening of its capital and its IPO at the end of 2005, the electrician is today owned by the State at nearly 84%, by employees for 1% and by institutional and individual shareholders. for the remaining 15%.

But the group, heavily indebted, is faced with heavy financial burdens, present and future, and vast industrial projects.

While about half of its 56 reactors are now shut down for maintenance but also for corrosion problems that have recently appeared, EDF must manage the maintenance of an aging fleet. The government also asks him to launch a program of new EPRs, the only model currently under construction in France, in Flamanville (Manche), is more than ten years late.

Weighed down by a debt that could reach more than 60 billion euros at the end of 2022, the electrician has also seen its financial situation deteriorated by the government’s decision to make it sell more cheap electricity to its competitors. A decision which had then somewhat strained the relationship between Mr. Lévy and the State.

As for the staff representatives, they welcomed the news of a nationalization with suspicion on Wednesday, fearing a larger restructuring, within the framework of negotiations carried out on the statute of the company between Paris and Brussels.

“As long as the State does not tell us precisely its intentions and the contours of the project, we will not be reassured about the future of the group and in particular the preservation of its integrated character, important for the group and the public service of the nation” , said Ms. Henri.