French restrict foreign takeovers

THE French government is drawing up a list of key sectors it wants to shield from foreign takeovers.

That’s according to Industry Minister Francois Loos.

While not indicating which would be shielded, he said nickel firm Eramet was even more strategically important for France than food group Danone.

Both companies have recently been the subject of rumours about a pending foreign takeover, with PepsiCo Inc said to be mulling over a bid for Danone.

Talk about a bid on Danone rallied politicians to its defence, including President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, who called for “economic patriotism.”

Loos said: “It is not our policy to oppose in principle each takeover of a French company.

“It is to bolster the competitiveness and independence of our companies and to see to it they can fight with the same weapons as their foreign peers.”

The government is working on two projects.

First, it wants to implement a new European directive on takeover bids that would allow a target company to use the same anti-takeover defences as are allowed in the country of the bidder. Second, the government will soon publish a list of sectors it deems of strategic importance and it wants to prevent falling under foreign control.

“But, above all, it is in the first place up to the companies to guard their independence by creating value,” Loos said.

There has been unease in political circles about a number of foreign bidders in the privatisation of three motorway companies.

Some international consortiums have been drawn up in a way that would keep a French majority in the company after takeover.

In the interview with Les Echos, Mr Loos also said he wanted European tax credit rules for research and development to be applicable to the creation of new fashion collections or video games.

More in this section

IE logo


The Business Hub

News and analysis on business, money and jobs from Munster and beyond by our expert team of business writers.

Sign up
Puzzles logo

Puzzles hub

News Wrap

A lunchtime summary of content highlights on the Irish Examiner website. Delivered at 1pm each day.

Sign up
Cookie Policy Privacy Policy FAQ Help Contact Us Terms and Conditions

© Irish Examiner Ltd