The future of the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant in Somerset is under a cloud amid a financial crisis at Areva, a shareholder in the project and the designer of the proposed reactors. Shares in the French engineering business plunged by almost a quarter after Areva warned it must suspend future profit predictions because of problems centred on a similar power station project in Finland. Both that scheme at Olkiluoto and another at Flamanville in France are massively over-budget and over-schedule, forcing Areva to consider whether it needs an injection of new cash to survive. Peter Atherton, a leading energy company analyst at Liberum Capital in the City, said Areva appeared to be in deep trouble and this must be a matter of grave concern to the British government. Areva declined to comment directly on Hinkley or the scale of its financial problems when contacted in Paris but earlier in the day the group put out a formal written statement in which it blamed continuing delays to its Olkiluoto project and a wider slowdown in nuclear work for its difficulties. It said it was facing “market conditions which remain unfavourable” and it was conducting a strategic review. EDF and Areva have not yet taken a formal decision to proceed with the scheme but that was expected to take place around the turn of the year and early construction work is already under way in the West Country.