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En route to Davos, Macron makes Versailles the place to be

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01/19/2018 | 03:55pm CET
FILE PHOTO: French President Emmanuel Macron  walks through the Galerie des Bustes (Busts Gallery) to access the Versailles Palace in July 2017.

French President Emmanuel Macron will host dozens of the world's most powerful business executives at the gilded Palace of Versailles to pitch France Inc before the global elite's annual gathering at Davos.

Goldman Sachs's (>> Goldman Sachs Group) Lloyd Blankfein, JP Morgan's (>> JP Morgan Chase & Company) Jamie Dimon and Facebook's (>> Facebook) Sheryl Sandberg will be among the chief executives at the summit that the presidency is dubbing "Choose France".

Elysee sources said "concrete" investment decisions would be announced.

"Monday, in the global business world, France will be the place to be," one presidential adviser quipped.

"Many investors will be in Europe for the Davos summit, so we've suggested a stopover in Paris," another Macron aide said.

Macron, a former investment banker, and his government are pushing through social and economic reforms to re-shape the French economy and restore France's image among investors.

Investors frequently complain of the country's high labour costs and rigid labour regulations, and remember his socialist predecessor's now-defunct 75 percent tax on millionaires.

French officials have also seized on Britain's decision to exit the European Union, Germany's complex coalition talks and Spain's Catalonia crisis to promote France as a haven of stability at the heart of the European single market.

Half of the companies represented at the grand palace of Versailles will be European, a quarter American, and another quarter from Asia and the Middle East, Elysee officials said.

The list of attendees reads like a Who's Who of international business and is a sign of the 40-year-old French leader's continued pulling power eight months into his presidency.

The include top executives from HSBC (>> HSBC Holdings), Bank of America (>> Bank of America), Google (>> Alphabet), Rolls Royce (>> Rolls-Royce), SAP (>> SAP), UPS (>> United Parcel Service), Bosch (>> Bosch), Alibaba (>> Alibaba Group Holding), JD.com (>> JD.com), GlaxoSmithKline (>> GlaxoSmithKline), Novartis (>> Novartis) and Cisco (>> Cisco Systems).

One of the aides said executives would "speed date" with French ministers in the afternoon before Macron joins them.

Dozens of investment projects will be discussed, and Elysee insiders expect four to five "significant and emblematic" announcements to be made, including one for a job-creating bricks-and-mortar factory in the industrial sector.

Two announcements in the digital sector and artificial intelligence will also be made, they said.

Macron, 40, then travels to Davos where in a speech on Wednesday he will set out his vision for the future of globalisation, the Elysee officials said. Widening inequalities, global warming and the rise of nationalism will feature in the 45-minute speech.

(Reporting by Michel Rose; Editing by Richard Lough)

By Michel Rose

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Financials ($)
Sales 2017 49 190 M
EBIT 2017 11 778 M
Net income 2017 7 500 M
Debt 2017 17 661 M
Yield 2017 3,28%
P/E ratio 2017 25,03
P/E ratio 2018 21,82
EV / Sales 2017 4,93x
EV / Sales 2018 4,71x
Capitalization 225 B
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