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French nuclear executive dies; leading reactor manufacturer Areva in need of new leader

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PARIS — The former head of France's Areva, a leading world nuclear manufacturer going through a difficult turnaround, has died, less than two months after illness forced him to step down from the company.

PHOTO: FILE- In this file photo dated Thursday Aug. 30 2012, Areva Chief Executive Officer Luc Oursel during the MEDEF summer Forum, on the campus of the HEC School of Management in Jouy en Josas, near Paris, France.  The former head of France's leading nuclear manufacturer Areva, Luc Oursel has died, it is announced Thursday Dec. 4, 2014, less than two months after illness forced him to step down from the company. (AP Photo/Jacques Brinon, FILE)
FILE- In this file photo dated Thursday Aug. 30 2012, Areva Chief Executive Officer Luc Oursel during the MEDEF summer Forum, on the campus of the HEC School of Management in Jouy en Josas, near Paris, France. The former head of France's leading nuclear manufacturer Areva, Luc Oursel has died, it is announced Thursday Dec. 4, 2014, less than two months after illness forced him to step down from the company. (AP Photo/Jacques Brinon, FILE)

French President Francois Hollande and top government ministers hailed Luc Oursel's contribution to promoting France's nuclear energy expertise on the global market. State-controlled Areva announced Oursel's death Wednesday night.

Oursel had stepped down as CEO in October to pursue medical treatment for an unspecified illness.

France relies on nuclear energy more than any other country — some 75 percent of its electricity comes from atomic reactors. But Hollande's government wants to reduce that dependence, posing challenges to Areva's main market.

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