The move has heightened speculation that a swathe of new reactor orders are set to come in over the coming years, putting pressure on manufacturers to supply specialist components.

In a statement Areva said: “At a time when the nuclear industry is experiencing a global renaissance, Areva is eager to strengthen the security of its supplies, particularly forged components.”

Sfarsteel, a wholly-owned subsidiary of France Essor, has four production units located in the Le Creusot basin in central France. Commercial terms or a desired time frame have not been disclosed.