France extends pandemic-fuelled foreign investment rules

30 Nov 2021

France’s Economy Minister has unveiled the extension of stringent foreign investment regulations brought in during the pandemic to protect companies throughout the country.

During an interview with French broadcaster, France 2 on Monday, Bruno Le Maire announced the threshold for state control of investments by non-European firms in French companies’ capital had been reduced to 10% from 25% during the coronavirus crisis. This "was to end on 31 December. I am extending it for another year," the Economy Minister stated.

The ruling relates to sectors such as energy, defence, transport and food, and also extended to biotechnology in 2020.

Le Maire went on to add: "During the crisis we lowered this threshold to 10% saying, 'Let's be careful because in the aftermath of the crisis, there are companies that will be weakened and we risk losing a certain number of skills, technologies and know-how'," he said.

Other similar decisions were adopted in countries including Germany last year to safeguard their businesses, particularly within the health sector, following on from recommendations from the European Commission. 

The Commission pressed all 27 Member States to “protect themselves” against the possibility of hostile takeovers of strategic firms by foreign groups.

In addition, during the interview with France 2, the Economy Minister said he is not questioning the growth forecast for the second largest economy in the eurozone, despite the fifth wave of Covid infections and the detection of the new Omicron variant that have shaken markets, Reuters reports.

“Our forecast is solid”, said Le Maire during the interview. He went on to add that France’s government was ready to offer aid to businesses suffering from coronavirus-related restrictions, adding France would “always be there, in whatever circumstances, to protect employees and companies, companies we see as strategic.”