Credit: Reuters/Christian Hartmann By John Irish and Emmanuel Jarry PARIS | Thu Oct 3, 2013 8:21am EDT PARIS (Reuters) – France’s military will cut about 7,500 jobs next year, a defense ministry source said on Thursday, detailing government belt-tightening plans that the far-right hopes will deliver it votes at municipal elections in 2014. The cuts come as tensions rise within Socialist President Francois Hollande’s 17-month-old coalition, whose poll ratings have fallen to 23 percent due to dissatisfaction about the economy and jobs. The defense ministry said in April that 34,000 jobs would likely be cut over the coming six years, but its overall budget would remain largely static, steering clear of drastic spending cuts after military officials and lawmakers said that would reduce France’s ability to counter global security threats. “Given the six year objectives, (the cut) should be around 7,000 to 7,500 military and civilian personnel in 2014,” the source said on condition of anonymity, ahead of a news conference by Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. A handful of bases will be closed or restructured, including an 800-man regiment in the town of Orange in the Vaucluse department, where support for the anti-immigrant, anti-European Union National Front is strong, the source said. Marion Marechal-Le Pen, a National Front member of parliament for Vaucluse, said the cuts would hurt France’s defenses and local economies in areas like hers. “I can only worry about the immediate economic impact in a region that has already been heavily hit by unemployment and economic difficulties,” she said, reacting to media reports about the cuts. “The governments of the right and the left have preferred to sell off our military know-how and lose our diplomatic independence by making small short-term savings. That will cost France’s sovereignty dearly in the coming years,” she said. France’s military employs some 228,000 personnel today. A further 165,000 individuals are employed by the defence industry, not including sub-contractors. The government plans 15 billion euros ($20 billion) in savings next year and 3 billion extra revenues from higher taxes and fighting tax evasion to reduce the budget deficit. (Editing by Tom Heneghan and Robin Pomeroy)
Schneider Electric is a France-based multinational corporation that specialises in electricity distribution and automation management. It displayed its products at a road show titled aWorld of Energy Efficiency for a better Pakistana on Wednesday. The display focused on efficient electric equipment for different consumers, both domestic and industrial, were displayed. While acknowledging that Pakistan was working with China for civil nuclear power, the French ambassador said it was the countryas own choice. However, he said France was ready to consider Pakistanas request for enhancing civil nuclear cooperation. Responding to a query, the ambassador said France had not yet provided any assistance to Pakistan for the construction of the Diamer-Bhasha Dam. However, it was providing assistance for smaller projects such as the Gabban hydropower located in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Jagran project (with a capacity of producing 100MW) and Munda Dam. He also highlighted that France had committed around $300 million to finance different hydropower projects in Pakistan as the country was facing an acute energy crisis. Benoit Dubarle, the companyas country president of UAE, Oman and Pakistan, said the road show would offer a platform to citizens to identify new opportunities and products in the energy sector. aThis is our effort to bring the best technology and expertise in energy management to our customers in Pakistan,a he said. Company representatives told visitors that most of the equipment installed in Pakistan, ranging from power houses and industrial units to domestic appliances, was not energy efficient.
Hollande Giving Workers Say in M&A Deepens Fortress-France Image
The attempt to keep potential predators at bay comes even as French companies remain among the worlds most acquisitive. LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA (MC) and Schneider Electric SA are among companies making $135 billion of takeovers since the start of last year, exceeding most nations in western Europe aside from the U.K., according to data compiled by Bloomberg. An Anachronism The measures were clearly thought up by people living in the last century, said Jean-Pierre Martel, a founding partner at Orrick Rambaud Martel, who advised on French drugmaker Sanofis takeover of Aventis in 2004. Its implicitly aimed at foreigners and meant to defend French interests. Its ridiculous. The biggest French companies have significant foreign investors and are very international. Seen from abroad, this will scare everyone. The debate over protecting French interests has been a political hot potato since Canadian aluminum maker Alcan Inc. bought French rival Pechiney SA a decade ago, eventually breaking it up and shutting plants. More recently, ArcelorMittal, the worlds largest steelmaker, decided to shutter a plant in France in the north-eastern city of Florange. The plant was the site where French President Francois Hollande pledged a few months before being elected in May 2012 to pass a law forcing large firms to sell rather than close sites to cap unemployment, which now stands at a 14-year high. Socialist Credentials The Socialist president, whose popularity is at a record low, is trying to make good on that campaign promise after being accused by some unions of caving in to ArcelorMittal when he ruled against a proposal by Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg to temporarily nationalize the Florange plant last December. The event is a central episode in the ministers just-released book La bataille du made in France, on defending the countrys industry in the face of large corporations with questionable behavior. With the bill, Hollande is seeking to re-burnish his credentials with his base. To its opponents, the bill asks potential buyers to stay out.