France to foreign firms: Keep out

29th August 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Aug 29 (AFP) - The French government in the coming weeks is to publish a list of strategic industrial sectors in which it would have the right to ban foreign takeovers, Industry minister François Loos said Monday in a newspaper interview.

PARIS, Aug 29 (AFP) - The French government in the coming weeks is to publish a list of strategic industrial sectors in which it would have the right to ban foreign takeovers, Industry minister François Loos said Monday in a newspaper interview.

"The monetary and financial code has recently been amended to allow the government to prevent a takeover in sectors deemed strategic," Loos told the French business newspaper Les Echos. "An implementation decree will be published in the coming weeks to precisely define and list these sectors."

Rumors last month that the US soft drink and snack food group PepsiCo was contemplating a hostile bid for French dairy group Danone triggered a hostile reaction in French political circles along with pledges of support to keep Danone in French hands.

The rumors during a two-week period were accompanied by a 27 percent jump in Danone's share price on the Paris stock exchange.

Reacting to Monday's comments by Loos, the EU commission said it was sure that Paris would not breach rules to which it is fully signed up as a member of the European bloc.

"I have full confidence in the fact that they are going to stick to the EU rules," said spokesman Gregor Kreuzhuber.

Kreuzhuber recalled that the single market was one of the major planks of EU membership, which brings benefits to everyone including France in terms of cross-border competition opportunities.

"This can't be seen as a one-way street," Kreuzhuber said.

Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin on July 27 called for a commitment to "true economic patriotism", while President Jacques Chirac asked the government to "strengthen measures to protect our strategic enterprises".

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news, François Loos, Villepin, Chirac, PepsiCo, Danone, foreign investment, Les Echos

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