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September 29, 2009

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Proglio slated to be named as chief of Electricite de France

HENRI Proglio is set to become chief executive of state-controlled Electricite de France, putting him in charge of Europe's largest utility, an extensive French nuclear plant network and nuclear projects in the United States and Britain.

The French prime minister's office said in a statement late Sunday that it "supports and recommends" Proglio for the new post.

EdF's board met on Sunday and nominated six new executives. The names will be submitted to shareholders on November 5.

The government, the largest shareholder, ultimately appoints the candidate.

Proglio, chief of Veolia Environnement, would take over from Pierre Gadonneix, who spent five years at the head of EdF, France's No. 2 publicly listed company by market capitalization.

Proglio, 60, has led Veolia since it was spun out of Vivendi in 2003. Proglio spent his entire career at Veolia, which owns the world's largest water company and provides water to US cities Atlanta and Indianapolis many other cities around the world.

Since 2004, Gadonneix grew EdF through major acquisitions, from British Energy in Britain to Constellation Energy in the US. But his days at the head of EdF were numbered ever since July, when he clumsily requested a whopping 20 percent electricity price hike in the middle of France's worst recession in 50 years.

At the head of EdF, Proglio will have authority over the company's park of 58 nuclear reactors in France and a range of international energy assets across Europe as well as in the US, China and South Africa.

Proglio also inherits EdF's fraught project to build a third-generation nuclear plant in Flamanville, France.

The plan has been plagued by delays and cost overruns. EdF currently estimates it will cost around 4 billion euros (US$5.87 billion) to build, 20 percent more than originally planned.

The project is due to start up in 2012.


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