French nuclear executive dies; leading reactor manufacturer Areva in need of new leader

The former head of France's Areva, a leading world nuclear manufacturer going through a difficult turnaround, has died, less than two months after illness forced him to step down from the company.

French President Francois Hollande and top government ministers hailed Luc Oursel's contribution to promoting France's nuclear energy expertise on the global market. State-controlled Areva announced Oursel's death Wednesday night.

Oursel had stepped down as CEO in October to pursue medical treatment for an unspecified illness.

France relies on nuclear energy more than any other country — some 75 percent of its electricity comes from atomic reactors. But Hollande's government wants to reduce that dependence, posing challenges to Areva's main market.