Ms. Lauvergeon's position has long been seen as tenuous because she had lost the support of French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Acrimony between the two traces back to 2004, when Ms. Lauvergeon resisted a request from Mr. Sarkozy, then finance minister, to help bail out French transport and energy company Alstom SA.
The French government will promote Deputy Chief Executive Luc Oursel to succeed her. Mr. Oursel, 52, joined Areva in 2007 at the request of Ms. Lauvergeon. A mining engineer, like Ms. Lauvergeon, he worked for electrical-equipment group Schneider Electric SA and Geodis SA, after having worked as a government adviser for several years. Mr. Oursel was in charge of Areva's nuclear activities until January, when he was appointed head of the group's marketing and international business. (WSJ, 6/17/2011, photo courtesy WSJ)