Bercy extends the protection of national flagships by one year

Officially, it is“Support the recovery”, we assure Bercy. But, as France plunges into the fifth wave of Covid-19 and the new variant Omicron sows panic on the stock markets, the announcement takes a very political turn. France has decided to extend for one year the strengthening of the control of foreign investments in listed companies, introduced during the pandemic to protect the French flagships weakened by the health crisis, announced the Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, Monday, November 29 on France 2.

The threshold for triggering State control of investments by foreign (non-European) companies in the capital of listed French companies had been lowered from 25% to 10% in the summer of 2020. This “Was scheduled to end on December 31. I extend it for an additional year “, declared Mr. Le Maire in the program “The 4 truths”. This control concerns around fifteen strategic sectors, such as energy, defense, transport or food. In April 2020, Bruno Le Maire announced a strengthening of the foreign investment control system resulting from the “Montebourg decree” of 2014, already extended in 2018 under the Pacte law: the biotechnology sector (vaccines) had been added to those subject to authorization. In July 2020, the holding threshold of a French company from which a non-European investor must submit a prior request to Bercy, already lowered from 33% to 25% of the voting rights, was again reduced, for companies listed, at 10%.

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“During the crisis, we lowered this holding threshold to 10% by saying: ‘Let us be careful because in the aftermath of the crisis there are companies that can be weakened and we risk losing a certain number of skills, technologies, know-how ””, explained the tenant of Bercy, Monday morning. “The current health and economic context does not make it possible to rule out the risks on these listed French companies”, justified the Minister of the Economy and the Minister Delegate in charge of foreign trade and attractiveness, Franck Riester, in a joint press release. The CAC 40 recorded its biggest drop on Friday since the first confinement in France (- 4.75%), following the appearance of the new variant of the coronavirus in South Africa.

An “essentially political” measure

Less than five months before the presidential election, the aim is to avoid a possible hostile raid on a tricolor flagship, such as the takeover of Alstom’s energy branch by the American General Electric, in 2014, when Emmanuel Macron was Minister of the Economy, today considered a symbol of the failure of the country’s economic sovereignty strategy. Or, at the very least, to be able to make an argument of strength in the face of the oppositions which will not fail to pin the executive on the subject.

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