Be more discreet, French minister asks state
France's minister for the digital economy on Wednesday urged the state to be more "discreet" in its future dealings with Dailymotion after it blocked the sale of the video-sharing site to Yahoo!.
Fleur Pellerin's comments could be interpreted as a snub to her boss Arnaud Montebourg, the industrial renewal minister who admitted last week to derailing plans by the US web giant to buy a majority stake in Dailymotion.
She told France Info radio that Orange, the telecommunications firm that owns Dailymotion, was looking for other investors after the scuppered Yahoo! deal, adding Orange boss Stephane Richard was touring Silicon Valley.
"I would like... the state to be discreet in these negotiations, whilst at the same time asserting the interests of its policies and of French firms," said Pellerin, who is also in charge of small and medium enterprises and innovation.
Yahoo! Inc. had been in talks to buy a 75 percent stake in Dailymotion, which is owned by Orange, itself owned by French giant France Telecom.
But the government, which holds a 27 percent stake in France Telecom, had insisted on a 50-50 split.
Montebourg said last week he had blocked the deal because the US firm was seeking to "devour" the French company. He said the government wanted a "balanced" agreement that would allow Dailymotion to retain its identity.
The move dealt a blow to recent attempts by the Socialist government to appear more business-friendly in a bid to attract investment and kickstart an economy on the verge of recession.
It was criticised by Richard and by Cedric Tournay, head of Dailymotion, and reportedly also caused frictions with Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici.
© 2013 AFP