France woos Saudi investors in Riyadh

15th December 2004, Comments 0 comments

RIYADH, Dec 14 (AFP) - French Ambassador for International Investment Clara Gaymard arrived in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday on the final leg of a Gulf tour to lure potential investments into the French economy.

RIYADH, Dec 14 (AFP) - French Ambassador for International Investment Clara Gaymard arrived in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday on the final leg of a Gulf tour to lure potential investments into the French economy.

"It is a good time to develop a new partnership with Saudi Arabia, not only in the financial sector, but also in industries and services," Gaymard told AFP.

France is a very safe place for Saudi investors because of "transparency in French companies... and the strong friendship between France and Saudi Arabia.

"We do not have at all this problem with (such) political debate," Gaymard, who heads also the Invest in France Agency (IFA), said in reference to accusations of funding terrorism directed in the past at Saudi capital abroad.

Gaymard said that France offers suitable opportunities for Saudi investors. "They (Saudis) have some liquidity they have to use... France has changed a lot. We have implemented a lot of reforms," she added.

Saudi investments in France are concentrated in the financial sector and real estate, and are very difficult to evaluate for being purchased mostly through international fund managers, she said.

The French mission's tour, during which Gaymard visited Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, aims mainly at attracting regional investment into industries and services, especially in medium and small-sized companies.

"Agro-food is a good sector" for investors from the Gulf region, said Gaymard, pointing out that some Saudi investors have expressed interest in the high-tech sector as well.

Investing in French oil and gas companies might also be an attraction for Saudi capital, said Christian Bodin, economic counsellor at the French embassy in Riyadh.

"We have a lot of small and medium-sized oil and gas companies that manufacture hardware used in the oil industry here," he said, adding that Saudi capital can be channelled into such companies.

The financial sector, in addition to real estate, remains the highest attraction for Saudi investors, because it is the "culture," said Gaymard.

The appreciation of the euro against the US dollar increases the potential of big eurozone stock markets to attract portfolio investments, said Arnaud de Bresson, managing director at Europlace, which promotes Paris as a financial market for potential international investors.

De Bresson is accompanying Gaymard on her tour.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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