France

A French official has said it might be difficult for Lebanon’s banks to prevent savers losing some of their deposits, according to the minutes of a meeting in which France outlined steps to help the crippled banking industry, Reuters reported. The comments were made during Sept. 10 talks in Paris between senior French officials and a delegation from the Association of Banks in Lebanon (ABL). Reuters reviewed a copy of the minutes, marked confidential.

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Shares in Europcar tumbled 30% in early trading on Tuesday, after the car rental group, battered by the coronavirus pandemic as travel dwindles worldwide, said it aimed to try and restructure its debts, Reuters reported. Most companies exposed to the tourism sector and other industries hit the hardest by the crisis made it through the first few months of the pandemic, thanks in part to government aid, such as state-backed loans. But some are now reaching a crunch point which is forcing them to address their debt piles.

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France has launched a €100bn plan to rescue its economy from the coronavirus crisis with big investments in green energy and transport as well as industrial innovation, the Financial Times reported.  Announcing the “France Relance” (France Relaunch) plan in Paris on Thursday, Prime Minister Jean Castex said its “historic ambition and size” made it almost four times as large as the national plan introduced after the 2008 financial crisis. At 4 per cent of gross domestic product, it was the “most massive” plan unveiled in Europe so far relative to the size of the economy, he said.  Min

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Société Générale slumped to a surprise loss in the second quarter after the French bank took a hefty charge as part of an overhaul of its struggling investment bank, the Financial Times reported. The results heaped further pressure on chief executive Frédéric Oudéa, the longest serving head of a large European bank, as the share price fell to 60 per cent lower than at the start of the year. “There is a very good understanding of the challenges of the bank,” Mr Oudéa told the Financial Times on Monday.

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French consumer confidence declined in July, denting hopes that the country’s economy would bounce back rapidly from the coronavirus crisis, the Financial Times reported. After an initial rebound in June, the French statistics agency’s consumer sentiment index fell by two points to 94 in July, below the average of 99 forecast by economists in a poll by Reuters. A score below 100 indicates that consumer confidence is lower than its long-term average, whereas a score above that mark suggests that sentiment is above average.

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Investment firm Eurazeo has asked bidders to submit last-ditch bids in September for French car rental firm Europcar Mobility Group SA as it seeks to avert a painful restructuring, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters, Reuters reported. The Paris-listed firm has attracted takeover interest from Volkswagen but a bid has yet to materialise as the German car maker remains wary of the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic on the car rental industry, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

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British Steel’s Chinese owner has had its bid to acquire a factory in France rejected by a court as concerns grow in some European capitals about companies from the Asian superpower snapping up assets, the Financial Times reported. Jingye Group, which saved the UK’s second-largest steelmaker from bankruptcy earlier this year, was attempting to wrest control of a small mill in north-east France that belonged to British Steel.

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French bank Natixis will merge its commodities and infrastructure operations to focus on clean energy in a restructuring sources said was accelerated by a series of loss-making loans to oil traders, Reuters reported. The move by one of the most active banks in commodities lending highlights the struggles of businesses connected to a sector grappling with an oil price collapse, rising bankruptcies and growing pressure to switch attention to greener fuels.

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Chinese investors who claim to trace their lineage to a renowned fourth-century calligrapher are fighting to retain control of a 256-year-old French crystal glassmaker, following a series of defaults and a private credit deal gone wrong, the Financial Times reported. The troubles for Beijing-based Fortune Fountain Capital and its struggle to hold on to Baccarat Crystal highlight the problems Chinese investors have run into after taking on excessive leverage to buy European brands — sometimes through private credit deals at lending rates far higher than those of bank loans.

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Since the coronavirus pandemic hit France, a succession of well-known clothing retailers have shut down or collapsed into bankruptcy. But none of these closures has hit home as hard as the demise of Tati, a discount emporium that has stood at the heart of the gritty neighbourhood of Barbès in northern Paris since 1948, the Financial Times reported. A giant blue and pink sign on the outside of the sprawling store announces the promise of its founder Jules Ouaki, a Jewish transplant from Tunisia, to always offer the lowest prices — “Tati, les plus bas prix”.

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