Sources: Constellation's French partner reviews U.S. strategy

French utility Electricite de France has hired investment adviser Lazard Ltd. to help review its strategic options for its U.S. business, including its nuclear partnership with Baltimore's Constellation Energy Group, according to sources familiar with the situation.

EDF is concerned that Constellation would exercise an option to sell its non-nuclear power plants to the French company for up to $2 billion. That option was part of EDF's purchase of half of Constellation's nuclear power business as the Baltimore company faced a financial crisis in 2008. The option expires Dec. 31.

Sources said Monday that EDF is considering options, including selling its stake in Constellation's nuclear business and terminating its Unistar partnership, established to develop and invest in new nuclear reactors, such as the proposed Calvert Cliffs unit in southern Maryland.

The hiring of Lazard was first reported by Reuters.

EDF declined to comment. But EDF Chairman and CEO Henri Proglio said in an interview earlier this month that a move by Constellation to exercise the option would cause a "breaking point" in their partnership.

Constellation said it is committed to working with EDF to resolve these issues, mindful of "our contractual rights and obligations and the interests of our shareholders."

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