France

France is preparing fiscal stimulus focusing on investment and financial aid for industrial sectors including the automotive industry, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said, giving the first indication of how the government plans to reboot the economy after the coronavirus crisis, Bloomberg News reported. Like other European countries, France has so far focused the heft of emergency spending on benefits for furloughed workers and a vast loan guarantee program to prevent bankruptcies. But the government is now working on a plan for when the confinements are lifted and businesses reopen.

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As lockdowns shutter stores and keep consumers cooped up at home, there will be many losers from the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus. But there will also be a few winners, Bloomberg News reported in a commentary. Casino Guichard Perrachon SA, the French supermarket operator that’s been a target for short-selling hedge funds, is emerging as a beneficiary, in line with other grocers seeing a frantic stockpiling of food on both sides of the Atlantic. While Casino’s complex financial structure has long been a source of consternation, there are some jewels in its highly leveraged crown.

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France is promising €45 billion ($50.16 billion) in immediate aid for businesses and employees hit by the coronavirus pandemic, which is slowing or shutting down swaths of the global economy, The Wall Street Journal reported. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, speaking Tuesday morning in a radio interview, said that his provisional predictions show the response to the coronavirus will slash 1% from France’s gross domestic product in 2020. The government plans to present a revised budget law for 2020 with the new prediction later Tuesday, Mr. Le Maire said.

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Airbus announced plans to halt operations at its plants in France and Spain for four days as the coronavirus crisis spread from battered airlines to the manufacturing sector, The Irish Times reported. The most serious across-the-board disruption in Airbus production since a strike at then British partner BAE Systems in 1989 pushed its shares down 7 per cent as a rebound in other European shares quickly faltered.

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British Steel’s Chinese buyer intends to continue pursuing the company’s French arm after completing the takeover of the rest of the group and saving 3,200 jobs, the Financial Times reported. The rescue deal gives Jingye control of the manufacturer’s British and Dutch sites but not its factory in Hayange, northern France, the sale of which has been delayed by concerns from the government in Paris.

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British Steel’s factory in France has received four takeover offers, according to the country’s finance minister, a development that will complicate efforts by a Chinese investor to buy out the whole of the troubled company, the Financial Times reported. The bidders include industry giant ArcelorMittal, German steel producer Saarstahl and the UK-based industrial group Liberty House, according to two people familiar with the matter.

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EuropaCorp SA, the French movie studio founded by director Luc Besson, will probably soon be controlled by New-York based Vine Alternative Investments Group, as the board of the struggling company and its creditors reached a broad debt-restructuring agreement, Bloomberg News reported Vine and funds managed by private equity firm Falcon Investment Advisors LLC will hold 60.2% and 6.3%, respectively, of EuropaCorp as they swap about $215 million of the studio’s debt for new shares, according to a statement released by EuropaCorp late Friday.

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France is looking at options to help Lebanon recover from its financial crisis, including an International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme if Beirut seeks one, a minister said on Monday, Reuters reported. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire also told reporters in Abu Dhabi that he had discussed the situation in Lebanon with the United Arab Emirates leadership. “We are very concerned,” Le Maire said, adding that the United Arab Emirates and France will decide separately if and how to support the government in Beirut.

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The coronavirus outbreak is threatening to scupper a debt refinancing for the world’s third-largest container shipping company, Bloomberg News reported. France’s CMA CGM SA is aiming to start refinancing its debt pile by the end of next month. The Marseille-based company, one of the biggest maritime carriers out of China, is seeking to extend about $400 million of loans and is also in talks with creditors to refinance about 725 million euros ($784 million) of bonds due in January.

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British Steel’s Chinese bidder has written to the French government in an effort to save its stalling takeover of the collapsed UK manufacturer, the Financial Times reported. With the clock ticking down on a deadline for the deal to be completed, Chinese conglomerate Jingye has sent a letter to the French finance ministry to persuade Paris of the plan’s merits, said people with knowledge of the matter. UK officials agreed a £50m rescue deal with Jingye in November. Under the agreement, Jingye would take control of the group’s plants in Britain, France and the Netherlands.

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