Now it is official: at the head of the electrician from 26 November 2014 and candidate for his succession, the current CEO of EDF will be renewed for a new five-year term. Elysee announced Thursday that Emmanuel Macron "He plans to renew Jean-Bernard Lévy as President and CEO of EDF at the suggestion of the Prime Minister". The proposal for the renewal of the 63-year-old Politecnico at the head of the French energy giant will be presented to shareholders on May 16, during the group's general meeting. And since the state shareholder is at home in Electricité de France, with 83.66% of the capital, there is little suspense. This will be the first time in the recent history of EDF that a leader will serve more than one term.
We must believe that Jean-Bernard Lévy is considered by Emmanuel Macron the man of the situation to lead this colossus – 70 billion euros in turnover and 150,000 employees – in the area of competitive, financial and strategic turbulence that is coming. Telecommunications engineer in the land of X-Mines, Lorrain is quite smiling, but seems a little stiff, has the profile of a servant of the state that breaks the business world. After starting his career as a senior official at the Directorate General for Telecommunications, "JBL" worked in Matra-Lagardère, then at Oddo Bank, before going to play firefighters at the head of Vivendi (Universal, Canal +, SFR …) in 2002 after the fall of Jean-Marie Messier. He eventually landed the Thales defense and security company in 2012, already at the request of the state. And in 2014, François Hollande called Lévy to lead EDF to put an end to Proglio and clean up the French nuclear industry, trapped in the industrial disaster of the EPR reactor.
This time, Emmanuel Macron seems to have more specific projects for EDF. In this case cutting projects. For months, between Bercy, Matignon and l'Elysée are ongoing scenarios that separate the activities of EDF. Fundamentally, it would be to group nuclear and hydraulic resources within an entity that remains under strict state control. And to branch out activities in renewable energy and services. Objective: on the one hand, maintain the strategic base of the production of electricity in the public fold (over 70% of the current comes from the atom and 10% of the hydraulic dams) while limiting the financial risk of a park l & # 39, nuclear energy subject to enormous costs of modernization and deconstruction; on the other hand, open up the capital of tomorrow's energy assets, such as wind power and especially solar energy, to private investors. A scheme that would have the advantage of easing the financial pressure on the group, but that makes the unions shout at home. The powerful energy of CGT in mind, the latter remains fiercely opposed to what it considers a "Dismantling" and a hidden privatization of EDF.
In return, the government would propose to electricians to maintain their famous status as an electric and gas industry (IEG). The latter would therefore be less abused than SNCF railway workers. Is this delicate mission – suicide? – that seems to entrust Emmanuel Macron to Jean-Bernard Lévy.
In any case, the situation of EDF is not rosy when we look closely. Driven by a debt that flirts with 40 billion euros, the group can not get enough money every year to cope with the huge investments required by its fleet of 58 nuclear reactors. Year after year, it releases more than 3 billion euros of profits. And from the opening to competition, the incumbent loses customers even if it continues to dominate the 80% of the domestic electricity market. But it will have to pay 50 billion euros to extend the life of its old nuclear power plants until 2030 and beyond. And at least so much to dismantle the 14 900 MW reactors that will have to close by 2035 as part of the energy transition decided by the recent multi-year energy program (PPE). The electrician will also have to control the cost of the Flamanville EPR reactor in the Channel, whose commissioning, initially scheduled for 2012, has been postponed to 2020. From 3.3 billion euros, the large reactor from 1,650 MW has already more than tripled, reaching almost 11 billion! And it will also be necessary to build the high-risk site of the two Hinkley Point UK EPRs.
Levy now knows all these things that have been mined by heart. And he knew how to save EDF's unions that formed one with him to defend the group's nuclear activities. With regret of Greenpeace, which has multiplied the spectacular actions under his reign, included several intrusions into power plants that would have to prove their security vulnerabilities. Honored by the supporters of the output of the atom who consider it a "Nucleocrat" However, EDF's head has presented ambitious development plans in the solar, electricity or electric mobility sectors in recent years.
But he will have to be particularly adept at leading the reorganization of the EDF that Emmanuel Macron requires from him in a tense national social context. Among the claims of the yellow jackets, the maintenance of public services, of which EDF remains a symbol somewhere, and the control of energy prices, appear in fact in a good place. This Friday morning at 11 am, the current head of EDF until 2024 will perhaps say more about his vision of the future by presenting his group's 2018 results.