The disposal of the T&D unit is a crucial part of Alstom’s plan to reduce its debt load from E5 billion to E2-2.5 billion by March 2005. At Alstom’s annual shareholders’ meeting in early July 2003, Alstom’s chief executive, Patrick Kron, confirmed that the group had received a E1 billion offer for the unit from Areva.

Unlike Areva, which can pay cash, Nexans has yet to secure financing for the deal. Nexans has confirmed that it will remain in the red this year. Nexans said that its first half loss narrowed thanks to cost cuts. Nexans posted a loss of E2 million in the first half of 2003, compared to a loss of E11 million for the same period in 2002. Nexans chairman Gerard Hauser said that the firm would need a capital increase to finance an offer.

Nexans has said that it is ready to form link-ups with other bidders for part of the T&D unit, possibly with Areva itself. However, Nexans wants to be the sole operator of the most profitable elements of the unit.