This could lumber the Hinkley project – already six years behind its original schedule – with more delays or complications.
The costs of the project have also risen from £10billion to £25billion.
The French government owns or controls 84 per cent of EDF – and 87 per cent of Areva. But in spite of this, the talks could still fail.
That would see Paris forced to inject many millions into the company to keep it afloat – something that President Francois Hollande’s socialist government is keen to avoid.
If it cannot raise the required amount from a sale to EDF, Areva could instead begin seeking investment from Chinese firms in order to prop up its business.
EDF, Areva and the French government refused to comment last night.