EDF has confirmed the shock departure of group CFO Thomas Piquemal as tensions mount over investment decisions of the proposed £18bn Hinkley Point C power plant in Somerset.
Xavier Girre, who joined the company last year as finance director of its domestic French business, has provisionally been appointed the group finance chief.
Piquemal made the decision to step down amid fears the project could jeopardise the company’s financial position, the BBC reports. EDF is set to make a final decision on the plant’s funding in April, having previously postponed it several times.
The plant – which, if completed, could produce 7% of the UK’s energy – had originally been slated to open in 2017, but repeated delays have led to calls for the timetable to be pushed back.
The China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) struck a deal in October last year to fund a third of the £18bn cost of the project in exchange for a 33.5% stake. However, reports suggest EDF is struggling to source cash for the remaining 66.5%.
Paul Dorfman, honorary research fellow at UCL’s energy institute, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that EDF also faces strain: “Its shares have crashed to half their value a year ago, profits are down 68% in the last financial year and the budget for Hinkley is bigger than EDF’s entire market value,” he said.