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Nuclear services boost Areva sales, backlog slides

PARIS (Reuters) - French nuclear group Areva (PAR:AREVA) said strong growth in uranium mining and nuclear waste handling boosted its sales by 4.7 percent in the first nine months of 2013, but its order book fell by five billion to 42 billion euros.

On a like-for-like basis, sales were up 7.6 percent to 6.85 billion euros ($9.46 billion) compared with the first nine months of 2012, but third-quarter revenue from Areva's core nuclear operations was stable compared with the third quarter of 2012, Areva said in a statement on Thursday.

The company also confirmed its 2013 revenue outlook. In February, Areva said it expected organic revenue growth in the range of 3 to 6 percent in its nuclear business.

Areva's nuclear business - which includes mining, nuclear fuel, reactors and waste handling - saw revenue rise 9.9 percent to 6.45 billion euros in the first nine months. Uranium mining saw the strongest growth, with revenue up 32 percent to 1.22 billion euros on a like-for-like basis.

An Areva spokesman told Reuters the order book shrinkage was mainly due the fact that its 2012 order book had been boosted to a record 47 billion euros by a large nuclear fuel order from French utility EDF (PAR:EDF).

Growth at Areva's key reactors and services unit was a tepid 1.5 percent to 2.44 billion euros, but Areva said an agreement between EDF and the UK government to build two Areva-designed EPR reactors at Hinkley Point would strengthen its position in the newbuild market and bolster the credibility of its EPR.

On Monday, Areva said it would take a 10 percent stake in the 16 billion pound EDF-led project, which is contingent on EU approval and financing for the deal.

Areva also said that revenue at its renewable energy business unit was below forecast, mainly due to the current indecisiveness in the renewable energy market.

Nine-month revenue at the unit, which represents less than five percent of total revenue, fell 25 percent to 292 million euros.

($1 = 0.7245 euros)

(Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by James Regan and Mark Potter)