By Geert De Clercq

By Geert De Clercq


PARIS (Reuters) - EDF <EDF.PA> CEO Jean-Bernard Levy knew the UK government wanted to take more time to review the Hinkley Point nuclear contract before the French utility's board voted to approve the investment, he said in a letter to top executives.


EDF's board narrowly approved the $24 billion project on July 28. But hours later the government of new British Prime Minister Theresa May, which had been expected to sign contracts the following day, instead said it wanted to give the plans further consideration.


The UK government postponed its final decision on the project until early autumn.


In comments to reporters at French state-controlled EDF's first-half earnings release on July 29, Levy had said he had not been aware at the time of the board meeting that the British government wanted more time to review the contract.


In a letter emailed to EDF's executive committee late on Tuesday this week, and reviewed by Reuters, Levy said that when he called the board meeting on July 21, he had done so with the go-ahead of the French state, which "had warned us that in light of her very recent arrival, the new British prime minister had asked for 'a few days' before deciding on the project".

Levy said that late on July 27, the night before the board meeting, he was informed that May wanted "a bit more time, without calling into question the project, and without specifying the date when the contract could be signed".

He added that EDF canceled a contract signing ceremony planned for July 29.

"When the board voted, on the afternoon of July 28, we (management) therefore knew that the ceremony would not take place the next day," Levy wrote.

EDF declined to comment on Levy's letter.

($1 = 0.7491 pounds)

(Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Pravin Char)