Tag Archives: French

French blast ‘ignorant’ US tyre boss

21 February 2013 Last updated at 15:41 GMT Morry Taylor Maurice Taylor is nicknamed “the Grizz” for his bear-like no-nonsense style A French minister has responded angrily to the boss of US tyremaker Titan who said he would have to be “stupid” to invest in the country.

Maurice Taylor made the claims in a letter to France’s minister for industrial recovery, Arnaud Montebourg.

On Thursday, Mr Montebourg replied that Mr Taylor’s “extreme” comments showed a “perfect ignorance of what our country is”.

He added that 20,000 foreign firms are in France, employing 2 million people.

Mr Taylor – a former candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 1996 – was replying to a request for Titan to consider investing in a loss-making Goodyear plant in Amiens, north France.

“I have visited that factory a couple of times. The French workforce gets paid high wages but only works three hours,” Mr Taylor said in the letter, dated 8 February, and published by French business daily Les Echos on Wednesday.

“They get one hour for breaks and lunch, talk for three and work for three. I told this to the French union workers to their faces. They told me that’s the French way!”

On Thursday, he told Le Figaro: “I didn’t want to insult the French. I wanted to say that the union at the factory in Amiens has a screw loose.

“If the French workers work, they will be as competitive as the Germans, British or the Americans. The problem is that the French are too expensive because of their particular benefits.”

Mr Taylor is nicknamed “the Grizz” for his bear-like no-nonsense style. He added: “How stupid do you think we are?”

French unions had blasted the content of his letter.

The spat has been front page news in France and caused lots of discussion over “le French bashing” on social media over the past few days.

More spats

In his response, Mr Montebourg said: “May I point out that Titan, the company you lead, is 20 times smaller than Michelin, our French leader of international influence, and 35 times less profitable?”

The minister added that 4,200 subsidiaries of US firms employed more than 500,000 people in France and that some firms had been around since 1842.

He went on to praise the efforts of young US soldiers in World War II and the current efforts of President Barack Obama to stop deindustrialisation in the US.

This is not the first row that Mr Montebourg has been involved in since the Socialists took charge of the presidency last summer.

He accused steelmaker Arcelor Mittal of “lying” and “disrespecting” the country and said it was no longer welcome during a spat over the closure of two furnaces at its steel plant in Florange.

France has a 35-hour statutory working week, brought in by the Socialist Party in 2000, but critics say it is now stifling economic growth.

Horsemeat scandal boss says French govt too quick to point finger

30021CASTELNAUDARY: The president of French meat processor Spanghero promised on Friday to disprove allegations that his firm knowingly sold horsemeat labelled as beef, and accused the government of being too quick to point the finger.


Consumer Affairs Minister Benoit Hamon released on Thursday details of an investigation into the firm which he said indicated Spanghero was the likely culprit in a scandal that has enraged consumers across Europe and implicated traders and abattoirs from Cyprus to Romania.


“I don’t know who is behind this, but I can tell you it’s not us. I’m astonished,” Spanghero boss Barthelemy Aguerre told Europe 1 radio. “I think we will prove our innocence and that of my associates. I think the government has been too quick.”


A French inquiry into how horsemeat got into ready meals sold across Europe found that the Spanghero firm labelled meat as beef when it knew what it was processing may have been horse.


Hamon said that Spanghero could not have failed to notice the meat it was importing was much cheaper than beef, and there was no indication that a Romanian firm supplying the meat had mislabelled what was in fact horsemeat.


Outside Spanghero’s factory in the town of Castelnaudary near Toulouse in southwest France, workers were seen filling up dumper trucks with blocks of meat and sausages on Friday, although it was not immediately clear why they were doing so.


The privately-owned firm, which was founded by brothers of 1970s French rugby captain Walter Spanghero, has had its operating licence suspended for 10 days and will face legal action if the suspicions are confirmed.


The Paris prosecutor is now reviewing the investigation.


Aguerre said his company had analysed the meat as soon as the scandal broke and discovered that some had been a mixture of beef and horsemeat. “It shows that Spanghero is not behind this deception. It comes from elsewhere. It puts the 300-odd employees in a great deal of difficulty,” he said.


FAMILY NAME TAINTED


Hamon told the same radio station that it was not up to him to say who was guilty, but added that it was clear something was not right at Spanghero.


“There are sufficient facts which show that at the very least there was a lot of negligence,” he said. “Millions of consumers have been duped so we had to act quickly.”


The scandal, which has triggered recalls of ready meals and damaged confidence in Europe’s vast and complex food industry, erupted last month when tests carried out in Ireland revealed that meat in some beef products was up to 100 percent horsemeat.


Laurent Spanghero, who sold the company in 2009 when it was in trouble for a symbolic one euro, said that while his family was not responsible, everything had to be done to save jobs in an area where there were few other employment prospects.


“My first thought is for the employees. It’s long-term unemployment that is coming if we are not capable in the next three days of resolving this,” said the tearful septuagenarian brother of Walter Spanghero.


“My second thought goes to our kids and grandchildren that carry our name. We have always taught them the values of courage and loyalty and today we have been plunged into dishonour,” he said on television.


The British government and the European Union have called for a high-level meeting to investigate the scandal and it will be on the agenda of a Feb. 25 EU farm ministers’ meeting.


The European Commission has proposed increased DNA-testing of meat products to try to establish the scale of a scandal which has exposed just how many countries a portion of mince may have travelled through before ending up in frozen lasagne.

Copyright Reuters, 2013

French economy ‘to avoid recession’

 French President Francois Hollande has vowed to make the economy more competitive The French economy will avoid recession this year, according to the country’s central bank.


It predicts growth of 0.1% in the first three months of 2013, a more upbeat outlook than that of many economists, who are discouraged by recent data.


A recession is usually defined as two consecutive quarters of contraction.


In its monthly report, the Bank of France said: “Forecasts point to a modest rise in [industrial] activity in February.”


The bank added that the business confidence indicator for industry had risen to its highest level in nearly a year.


But many experts have made gloomier predictions – partly because of January’s manufacturing data, which showed the sharpest fall in output since March 2009.


Initial economic growth figures for France are due out on 14 February. The government’s official forecast is for 0.8% this year.


French President Francois Hollande is trying to make France more competitive. He recently called for more currency stability, arguing that the French economy “could be destroyed by the rising value of the euro”.

Google settles French news dispute

Eric Schmidt Eric Schmidt had said meeting the French media’s original demand would threaten Google’s existence Google has agreed to create a 60m euro ($82m; £52m) fund to help French media organisations improve their internet operations.


It follows two months of negotiations after local news sites had demanded payment for the privilege of letting the search giant display their links.


The French government had threatened to tax the revenue Google made from posting ads alongside the results.


The US firm had retorted it might stop indexing French papers’ articles.


In addition to the creating the Digital Publishing Innovation Fund, Google has agreed to give French media access to its advertising platforms at a reduced cost.


The compromise allows it to avoid paying an ongoing licensing fee.


“France is proud to have reached this agreement with Google, the first of its kind in the world,” the French president’s office said on Twitter.


One analyst told the BBC that the President’s comment was telling.


“It appears Google have opened the door to other countries’ newspapers doing the same thing,” said Ian Maude, head of internet at Enders Analysis.


“This sets a precedent which other publishers may pursue in their own negotiations.”

Filed papers

After the news was announced, Eric Schmidt, Google’s chairman, wrote on his company’s blog: “These agreements show that through business and technology partnerships we can help stimulate digital innovation for the benefit of consumers, our partners and the wider web.”


The search giant has also made efforts to resolve a separate European dispute.


It has filed proposals with the European Commission stating how it intends to deal with complaints made by Microsoft and more than a dozen other companies that it had broken competition rules.


The European regulator will now consider Google’s proposals, which have not been disclosed.


If it rejects them and finds the firm has broken its rules, it has the power to fine the firm up to 10% of its global turnover which could amount to more than $4bn (£2.5bn).

Renault to cut 7,500 French jobs

 Renault chief executive Carlos Ghosn Renault chief executive Carlos Ghosn warned last July that times were tough Renault is to cut about 7,500 jobs in France by 2016 as the carmaker continues to struggle with falling sales and profits.


Renault said it expects some 5,700 jobs to go through natural wastage, with the remainder coming from an extension of an early retirement programme.


The plans are subject to an agreement with unions, a Renault spokesman told France’s AFP news agency.


Renault, like many European carmakers, has been hit by falling demand.

Continue reading the main story image of Jorn Madslien Jorn Madslien Business reporter, BBC News

Renault’s difficulties are directly linked to its heavy reliance on markets in the crisis-hit eurozone countries, where car sales have fallen sharply in recent months.


Many automotive groups with global footprints, such as Jaguar Land Rover or the German carmakers, have enjoyed strong sales growth elsewhere in the world, which has compensated for much of the weakness in Europe.


Renault is not one of them, and neither are rivals such as PSA Peugeot Citroen or Fiat and its Alfa Romeo and Lancia marques. None of them have established a sufficient presence in vital export markets, most notably the US.


But although these carmakers might have taken a greater hit than many others, none of the manufacturers will be totally insulated from the European sales slump.

The cuts represent about 14% of Renault’s workforce in France. The company has more than 120,000 employees worldwide.


“If an agreement is signed with unions, this staff redeployment would require neither a plant closure or a voluntary redundancy programme,” Gerard Leclercq, head of Renault’s French operations, told AFP. The company said the cuts should save about 396m euros (£328m) between this year and 2016.


Renault chief Carlos Ghosn warned last July that the carmaker was in a “difficult and uncertain” environment.


Last month, Renault’s car registrations in France fell 27%, although the company is having more success in overseas markets. For the year, Renault’s registrations in France fell 20% to 551,334.


Last week, France’s Peugeot-Citroen reported a 16.5% fall in sales worldwide, blaming “the crisis affecting the European automobile market”.


And on Friday, Japanese carmaker Honda announced 800 job cuts at its UK plant near Swindon, due to falling demand across mainland Europe.


Renault is negotiating a new pay and conditions deal with French unions in a bid to reduce costs.


The job cuts will be a further blow to French President Francois Hollande, who came to power on a promise to bolster manufacturing and reduce the unemployment rate, now approaching a 13-year high.

French car sales drop 19.2% in November

Paris: French new car sales plunged by 19.2 per cent in November on a monthly basis and by 13.8 per cent in the first 11 months of the year, data from the French automobile manufacturers’ association CCFA showed on Monday.

The CCFA said it expected French new car sales to be down by about 14 per cent for 2012 as a whole.

In November, a total of 144,694 new cars were registered in France, the association said in a statement.

French carmakers were among those that suffered the biggest drops, with sales by PSA Peugeot Citroen, the second-biggest European auto manufacturer, down by 22.9 per cent, and those by the Renault group posting a plunge of 33.5 per cent.

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Foreign brands fared somewhat better, with a only a 7.9 per cent decline overall. South Korea’s Hyundai-Kia posted a 20.5 per cent gain in sales, followed by Daimler, which owns Mercedes-Benz and Smart, with a 13.8 per cent increase.

Credit Agricole CEO blasts draft French bank curbs

Monday, 26 November 2012 16:29 Posted by Shoaib-ur-Rehman Siddiqui

credit-agricolePARIS: Proposed rules to curb French banks’ risky trading will go further than anywhere else in Europe and will make it harder for them to lend, Credit Agricole’s chief executive told the daily Les Echos newspaper.

The comments came as Les Echos reported on Monday that lending to hedge funds and private equity will be part of the risky activities French banks will have to house in a separate entity from July 2015.

“The banking reform proposals currently have no equal anywhere in Europe,” said Jean-Paul Chifflet, head of Credit Agricole and also of the French Banking Federation lobby group.

“It is going to become extremely difficult for French banks to lend to the economy.”

Les Echos, citing France’s draft bank reform law due to be unveiled next month, said high-frequency trading and proprietary trading of commodity derivatives would be forbidden in those separate units. Banks’ market-making activities will be spared, as Reuters reported on Nov. 15.

Chifflet criticised the crisis resolution section of the law, flagged by French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici earlier this month, which he said would call on all banks to suffer the cost of rescuing a rival if it collapsed.

He also warned the rules would come on top of a raft of additional taxes charged to the banking sector and the post-crisis package of capital and liquidity rules known as “Basel III”.

Commenting on the US decision to delay application of Basel III, which has sparked ire in Europe, Chifflet said: “I hope European Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier will be attentive to what is being done in the United States before applying the Basel III rules to avoid penalising Europe.

Copyright Reuters, 2012

French business activity shrinks for ninth month

Paris: French business activity shrank for the ninth straight month in November, albeit at a slower pace than last month, putting the euro zone’s second-largest economy at risk of a sharp contraction in the fourth quarter, a survey showed.

The Markit/CDAF flash composite Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose to 44.6 from 43.5 in October, data showed on Thursday, improving for the second month running on a marginal improvement in factory and service sector activity.

Despite the modest improvement, Markit, the consultancy that compiles the survey, said it was counting on a 0.7 per cent drop in French gross domestic product in the last three months of the year, after 0.2 per cent on-quarter growth in the third quarter.

In the services sector, the flash PMI index for November rose to a forecast-topping 46.1, from 44.6 in October, while in the manufacturing sector it rose to 44.7 from 43.7.

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In just about all cases, the readings were somewhat better than in the previous month or two but still well short of the 50 point mark that divides growth from contraction.

Chris Williamson, economist at Markit, said he expected a dire reading for fourth-quarter GDP.

“A very steep rate of decline is being signalled. We were very much surprised by the resilience of the third quarter according to the official data. We don’t think that that really reflects what the underlying situation is.”

In the manufacturing sector, an index measuring the pace of new orders improved for a second month and rose more markedly for new orders from abroad. There again, the readings, shy of 50, suggested a slower pace of contraction rather than growth.

One of the notable readings from the services sector was an improvement in business expectations, which rose to 50.8, back above the 50 point mark for the first time since August.

Williamson said this reading was often relatively high and not too much should be read into that figure.

The 17-nation euro zone slipped into recession in the third quarter of 2012 for the second time since 2009. But Germany and France both reported marginal rises in gross domestic product (GDP), sparing them from the technical definition of a recession as two straight quarters of GDP shrinkage.

Economists fear that France will fare more poorly in coming months, with unemployment at its highest in 13 years and tax rises on the way.

France’s central bank predicts a 0.1 per cent GDP dip in the last quarter of 2012, though it had also flagged a 0.1 per cent dip in the third quarter. The government is counting on 0.3 per cent GDP growth in 2012 as a whole and 0.8 per cent in 2013.

French downplay credit rating cut

Pierre Moscovici said the downgrade was motivation to pursue structural reforms The French government has downplayed the importance of rating agency Moody’s decision to deprive the country of its top triple-A credit rating.


Moody’s downgraded France’s debt from Aaa to Aa1, and kept its negative outlook, meaning it could be cut again.


Moody’s blamed stalled economic growth, the risk of a Greek euro exit and the risk that France has to contribute to bailing out other eurozone countries.


“Judge us on our results,” French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici said.


Rival ratings agency Standard & Poor’s downgraded France from AAA in January. Of the big three agencies, only Fitch still gives France its top rating.

‘Second place’

“The rating in no way places a question over the fundamentals of our country’s economy – neither the reforms undertaken by the government, nor the quality of the signature on our debt,” said Mr Moscovici.


He pointed to the fact that Moody’s had only downgraded its rating of the country’s long-term debts by one notch, and still gave France’s short-term debts its top rating.

Continue reading the main story

Ordered by Moody’s rating; eurozone in bold

The finance minister said Moody’s decision reinforced the need for the government to pass a package of economic reforms that is proving unpopular with voters.


The ratings agency’s move had not affected sentiment on the financial markets, which still held French debts in high regard, the government claimed.


“France still represents sound value. It is in second place just after Germany,” said government spokesperson Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, speaking on French radio.


“Even today, investors lend to France in very favourable conditions. For example, we make short-term borrowings at negative rates, and that is going to continue.”


Moody’s said the primary reason for the downgrade had been France’s “persistent structural economic challenges” and the threats they pose to economic growth and the government’s coffers.


“These include the rigidities in labour and services markets, and low levels of innovation, which continue to drive France’s gradual but sustained loss of competitiveness and the gradual erosion of its export-oriented industrial base,” Moody’s said.


Mr Moscovici said the downgrade was motivation to pursue structural reforms.


He also blamed the downgrade on the economic management of previous governments and added that France was still committed to cutting its public deficit to 3% of output next year.

‘Time bomb’

Data released last week showed that France had narrowly avoided falling into recession during the third quarter of 2012, registering 0.2% economic growth from the previous quarter.


Over the course of the 12 months, however, the French economy has more or less stagnated.

Continue reading the main story
The Moody’s decision may not matter very much to the French government’s cost of borrowing on world markets – at least in the short run. In the grand scheme of things, it may not matter very much at all, given how many other countries have also lost their triple A”

End Quote As well as the latest downgrade, France’s new Socialist government has also had to put up with criticism from the financial community and the press, particularly in light of President Francois Hollande’s decision to reinstate retirement at 60 for some workers.


The latest edition of the Economist magazine dubbed France “the time bomb at the heart of Europe”, claiming it had an under-competitive economy and over-dependence on government spending.


French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault accused the Economist of “excess” saying that “France is not at all impressed”.


Nonetheless, the French authorities’ reaction to criticism has been notably more sanguine under the current government than under former President Nicolas Sarkozy.


When Standard & Poor’s indicated that it intended to become the first rating agency to knock France off the triple-A top spot last December, French policymakers sought to deflect attention to the UK, whose top credit rating was reaffirmed.


The head of the French central bank, Christian Noyer, demanded that the UK should be downgraded first, while the then Finance Minister Francois Baroin poked fun at the UK, saying: “Great Britain is in a very difficult economic situation, a deficit close to the level of Greece, debt equivalent to our own, much higher inflation prospects and growth forecasts well under the eurozone average.”

Q4 2011 Q1 2012 Q2 2012 Q3 2012

Source: Eurostat; figures show % change compared with previous quarter

UBS ex-managing director charged in French tax probe

PARIS: French authorities have charged a former managing director of the French arm of Swiss bank UBS in connection with a probe into alleged tax evasion, a judicial source told AFP on Monday.


Patrick de Fayet is the third person charged in the affair. He was managing director of the bank’s French operations between 2008 and 2009.


The others charged include the former head of a UBS office in the northern city of Lille as well as a current manager at a French affiliate of the bank.


UBS is suspected of having helped clients hide transfers of funds between France and Switzerland and of allowing its Swiss operations to illegally canvass for clients in France.


UBS paid a $708 million fine to the United States in 2009 to settle a tax fraud case which charged that it helped US citizens open offshore accounts to avoid paying taxes.


Authorities in several European countries are probing suspected tax evasion involving Swiss banks, including in France and in Germany.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2012

Data may reveal French economys direction


PARIS: France learns on Thursday whether it has joined the European countries whose economies are contracting or whether there is still hope for the growth underpinning plans to meet EU deficit targets.


The national statistics institute INSEE is due to release its first estimate of gross domestic product in the third quarter in the Eurozone’s second largest economy.The French economy has flat lined for the three previous quarters and the figure for the period from July through September is expected to again be around zero.


French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici expressed confidence last month that the figure could end up on the positive side, while the Bank of France thinks it will come in negative.A contraction would point to France soon joining the countries in recession, which would not augur well for the wider Eurozone and EU economies.


The Bank of France has forecast a slight economic decline of 0.1 percent in the third quarter of the year, and a similar contraction in the fourth, which if confirmed would officially put France in recession for the first time since early 2009.


The country’s consumption-based economic model coupled with relatively robust savings rates and a broad network of social safety nets has helped France keep its head above water.Meanwhile neighbours like Britain and Italy slipped back into so-called double dip recessions as they cut back state spending in the midst of the global economic crisis.


France is about to undertake a similar fiscal retrenchment as it tries to squeeze the deficit down from this year’s target of 4.5 percent to 3.0 percent next year as it has promised its EU peers.The new Socialist government plans 12.5 billion euros of spending cuts and 20 billion euros in tax hikes next year.


But plans to meet its EU pledge of bringing the public deficit back down to 3.0 percent of GDP next year are based on growth of 0.8 percent next year, after 0.3 percent growth this year.


A contraction this year would require France to achieve more growth next year or undertake further fiscal retrenchment to meet the target.For their part, the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission both expect the French economy to expand by just 0.4 percent in 2013, and believe the public deficit will be higher than promised.


Economists believe the government might get its wish in the third quarter.In October, Moscovici said that he hoped the third quarter would result in “slightly positive growth” given that consumption had risen by 0.2 percent and that industrial production had bumped briefly higher during the summer months.


Posting a positive growth number for the first time since the new government took office in May, after President Francois Hollande trumpeted the need to focus on growth, would be handy.


At his first press conference since being elected six months ago, Hollande said on Tuesday: “My mission is simple; to manage to get back to growth and reduce unemployment.”But economists warn that the last three months of the year could then bring some more downbeat news.


All agree that France will start 2013 with little economic momentum.The government has unveiled measures designed to make the economy more competitive, including tax breaks for businesses worth up to 20 billion euros a year.


Designed to offset the high payroll taxes that have dulled the competitive edge of French companies both in the world and the Eurozone, the tax credits will be financed by a combination of cuts in public spending and increases in sales taxes (VAT).


Economists have long pointed out that what France lacks is a solid trade surplus like Germany’s.Germany is set for a record trade surplus this year, increasing by 10 percent from the level in 2011 to reach 174 billion euros ($221 billion), the BGA German federation of exporters and wholesalers forecast on Tuesday.

French PM says EU states must meet Airbus pledges

Tuesday, 23 October 2012 14:28 Posted by Parvez Jabri

TOULOUSE: The European partners behind planemaker Airbus must fully meet their commitments regarding the planemaker’s new A350 widebody passenger jet, French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said on Tuesday.


“The European partner nations…have always played a major role in the development of major aerospace projects,” Ayrault said at the inauguration of an assembly factory for the future A350 at Airbus’ Toulouse headquarters.


“It is of course the case for the A350, and it is essential that their commitments are met in full,” he said, adding that France would respect its obligations.


Airbus Chief Executive Fabrice Bregier confirmed that the A350 would enter service in the second half of 2014, adding that he expected further orders for the new jetliner this year.

Copyright Reuters, 2012

French report to urge payroll tax cuts

Paris: A government-commissioned report will urge France to cut €30 billion (Dh144 billion or $39.09 billion) in payroll taxes over two to three years to increase the country’s competitiveness, newspaper Le Figaro said on its website on Friday citing unnamed sources.

The lost revenue would have to be covered by massive cuts in public spending — far beyond the €10 billion savings envisaged in the 2013 budget — as well as rises in VAT and the CSG levy that helps to fund France’s social security system, the newspaper said.

The report by Louis Gallois, former chief of aerospace group EADS, will say the sharp reduction in labour costs would give a necessary jolt to France’s economy, according to Le Figaro.

French business leaders have long called for a decrease in payroll taxes, which rank amongst the highest in the world.

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Gallois’ report on French competitiveness, which was commissioned by Hollande, is due out on November 5.

Sources told the newspaper the report would call for labour costs to be lowered over the next two to three years — with €20 billion coming off charges paid by employers and 10 billion off those paid in by employees.

The cuts would only apply to wages up to 3.5 times the minimum wage, currently set at €9.4 euros an hour before tax, or €1,425.67 euros a month, the website said.

Hollande’s government is due to set out measures early next year to boost the competitiveness of an ailing economy where unemployment has risen to its highest in 13 years and growth has remained stuck at zero for the past three quarters.

French govt to block artwork tax bill


PARIS: The French government on Tuesday vowed to block a budget amendment introducing a wealth tax on artworks, following a storm of protest from top museums including the Louvre and the Pompidou Centre.


“The government’s position is quite clear. Artworks will not be included in the assets liable for wealth taxation,” Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told Europe 1 radio, after art world heavyweights sounded the alarm.


The French parliament’s finance committee last week adopted an amendment, tabled by a member of the ruling Socialist Party, that would expand the assets covered by the ISF wealth tax to include art worth 50,000 euros or more.Artworks have been exempted from the ISF since it was created in 1982.

French luxury firm mulls China expansion


HONG KONG: French luxury handbag maker Longchamp is eyeing a huge expansion in China despite the country’s economic slowdown, its chief executive said as the firm opened a new store in Hong Kong Wednesday.


The 64-year-old family-owned brand, famous for its coloured fold-up nylon and leather totes, said it was optimistic about the Asian market, especially China, as European economies — its main markets — remain “unfavourable”.


“We have no intentions to slow down our expansion plans, especially in Asia,” chief executive Jean Cassegrain, a grandson of the founder, told AFP. He said he had no concerns about China, adding: “The purchasing power of Chinese consumers continue to increase and it is not going to change” even as the Asian powerhouse’s economy slowed. The 400-square-metre (4,300-square-feet) outlet is Longchamp’s second mega store in Hong Kong and is located in Kowloon, one of the city’s busiest shopping districts where mainland Chinese tourists flock to splurge on luxury goods.


Cassegrain said Longchamp is looking to expand its current presence of seven stores in mainland China — including Beijing and Shanghai — to about 40 to 50 stores, although he could not specify a timeline.


“The challenge is to pick the right locations,” he said, adding that Longchamp has appointed popular Chinese actress Gao Yuanyuan as its ambassador to boost the brand’s profile in the region.


China’s economy expanded 7.6 percent in the second quarter of this year, its worst performance in three years, and disappointing data since then has led to fears that third-quarter growth may have weakened further.


Third-quarter data is due out on Thursday. Longchamp saw turnover of 390 million euros ($507 million) last year, up 22 percent from a year earlier.

French inflation eases to 1.9 percent


PARIS: French inflation eased to 0.3 percent in September on a monthly basis, and to 1.9 percent over 12 months, data released by the national statistics institute INSEE showed on Thursday.


In August, French consumer prices had gained 0.7 percent from the level the previous month, and 2.1 percent over 12 months, but lower motor fuel prices had helped ease inflationary pressures, INSEE said.

French and German governments must reduce their stakes in defence company EADS

London: The French and German governments must reduce their stakes in defense company EADS NV for the UK to allow a proposed merger with BAE Systems PLC to go ahead, Britain’s defense secretary warned on Sunday.

Philip Hammond said Britain would veto the mega-merger of the aeronautics and defense companies if this requirement wasn’t satisfied.

“It is not, I think, necessary to have no French or German government interest in the company,” Hammond told the BBC in an interview. “It is necessary to reduce that stake below the level at which it can control or direct the way the company acts.”

The deal would create a global aerospace and defense company with combined sales of more than €70 billion ($90.3 billion) and more than 220,000 employees.

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“We want to see this company . prospering as a commercial business focused on doing the things that are right for the business, not being beholden to or controlled by any one government,” Hammond added.

EADS, the parent of aircraft maker Airbus, is jointly French and German owned, though it is incorporated in the Netherlands.

The French government owns 15 per cent and French media company Lagardere has 7.5 per cent. Germany’s government does not have direct stakes in EADS, but has influence through auto maker Daimler, which holds a 22.5 per cent stake.

The firms have until Wednesday to say whether they want to continue with the talks.

On Friday, 45 British lawmakers wrote to Prime Minister David Cameron, warning that the proposed merger would hand control of much of the British defense industry to a company that would not safeguard the country’s interests.

EADS, one of Europe’s biggest companies, is also parent to helicopter maker Eurocopter, satellite builder Astrium and defense electronics contractor Cassidian.

The proposed merger is fraught with difficulties, not least because France and Germany have been fighting for an equal say in EADS.

Airbus and EADS have long been rivals to US-based Boeing Co. in civil and defense aviation. The proposed deal is a clear shot at catching up to Boeing’s defense business — and passing it.

French and German governments must reduce their stakes in defence company EADS

London: The French and German governments must reduce their stakes in defense company EADS NV for the UK to allow a proposed merger with BAE Systems PLC to go ahead, Britain’s defense secretary warned on Sunday.


Philip Hammond said Britain would veto the mega-merger of the aeronautics and defense companies if this requirement wasn’t satisfied.


“It is not, I think, necessary to have no French or German government interest in the company,” Hammond told the BBC in an interview. “It is necessary to reduce that stake below the level at which it can control or direct the way the company acts.”


The deal would create a global aerospace and defense company with combined sales of more than €70 billion ($90.3 billion) and more than 220,000 employees.


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“We want to see this company . prospering as a commercial business focused on doing the things that are right for the business, not being beholden to or controlled by any one government,” Hammond added.


EADS, the parent of aircraft maker Airbus, is jointly French and German owned, though it is incorporated in the Netherlands.


The French government owns 15 per cent and French media company Lagardere has 7.5 per cent. Germany’s government does not have direct stakes in EADS, but has influence through auto maker Daimler, which holds a 22.5 per cent stake.


The firms have until Wednesday to say whether they want to continue with the talks.


On Friday, 45 British lawmakers wrote to Prime Minister David Cameron, warning that the proposed merger would hand control of much of the British defense industry to a company that would not safeguard the country’s interests.


EADS, one of Europe’s biggest companies, is also parent to helicopter maker Eurocopter, satellite builder Astrium and defense electronics contractor Cassidian.


The proposed merger is fraught with difficulties, not least because France and Germany have been fighting for an equal say in EADS.


Airbus and EADS have long been rivals to US-based Boeing Co. in civil and defense aviation. The proposed deal is a clear shot at catching up to Boeing’s defense business — and passing it.


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Bank of France estimates French GDP contracted 0.1pc in Q3

france-flagPARIS: The Bank of France said Monday that the French economy likely contracted by 0.1 percent in the third quarter of this year in its final estimation.

If the estimate is confirmed by France’s official statistical agency INSEE, it would be the first quarterly contraction since France exited recession in the spring of 2009.

INSEE’s chief forecaster said last week that the agency believes France will continue to escape recession, but stagnate with zero growth in the third and fourth quarters, as opposed to its previous forecasts in June of 0.1 percent and 0.2 percent growth respectively.

That would make for five consecutive quarters of no growth, an unprecedented stagnation for the French economy since World War II.

INSEE also last week halved its 2012 growth forecast to 0.2 percent. That forecast puts INSEE just below the government’s forecast of 0.3 percent growth to bring France’s public deficit to 4.5 percent of GDP as pledged to the European Union.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2012

French market research firm comes to Pakistan

Sees huge growth potent­ial in emergi­ng Asian market­s. Ipsos claims that it is the third largest market research company of the world. Established in Paris in 1975, the company has gradually expanded worldwide with a turnover of €1.363 billion in 2011. PHOTO: ipsos.com

KARACHI: 

In the presence of a host of corporate executives, advertising professionals and marketing heads of different national and multinational companies, a France-based global market research firm announced its formal launch in Pakistan here on Tuesday.

Currently operating in 84 countries with 16,000 employees serving 5,000 clients, Ipsos claims that it is the third largest market research company of the world. Established in Paris in 1975, the company has gradually expanded worldwide with a turnover of €1.363 billion in 2011.

Ipsos began its operations in Pakistan in September last year. Its clientele includes a number of corporate giants, including Nestle, Proctor & Gamble, Unilever, USAID, Colgate-Palmolive, ICI and Glaxo SmithKline Consumer Healthcare.

Highlighting the reasons for the company’s decision to start operations in Pakistan, Ipsos co-president and global founder Didier Truchot said the country was already a big market for its existing clients in the global market. He also expressed dismay over the fact that many Pakistani companies went to Dubai-based market research firms to get insights into the current trends in the local market.

Claiming that the information provided by Ipsos will be accurate, relevant and useable, Truchot said it offered specialised services in advertising, marketing, media and technology, opinion and social research, customer and employee research, and global operations including survey management and data collection.

A look at the revenues of Ipsos reveals that while its operations in the countries of Asia-Pacific constituted just 15% in its consolidated revenues in 2011, the most recent year-on-year increase in revenues from the Asia-Pacific region was a massive 56.4%.

The corresponding increase in Ipsos’ revenues from the Americas remained just 12.6%, reflecting the fact that the company foresees a huge growth potential in the emerging Asian markets.

Among the international clientele of Ipsos are many notable corporate entities like Microsoft, Coca Cola, Google, Samsung, Mercedes-Benz and Pepsi.

Headquartered in Islamabad with client services office in Karachi and Lahore, Ipsos Pakistan has created since September about 50 permanent staff jobs in addition to over 400 ad hoc and on-call staff positions.

The company claims that its team can undertake any modular study and has multi-country research expertise with full coverage of both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Quoting the CEO of Unilever Pakistan, an Ipsos representative said that as opposed to its size now, the fast-moving consumer goods company would be more than two and a half times the size five years later.

“Actionable market research will be the key, as it helps identify the bulge in the target market,” he said, referring to the necessity of having credible market research for sustainable expansion in businesses.

Published In The Express Tribune, June 13th, 2012.