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French Frontrunner Hollande Says Sarkozy Lost ‘Battle’ for AAA

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Jan. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Francois Hollande, the frontrunner in the this year’s French presidential election, said that incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy lost the “battle” to keep France’s top AAA credit rating.

The downgrade by Standard & Poor’s reflects France’s gap with Germany, which kept its rating, and “also risks increasing our borrowing costs for the coming year,” Hollande said today at his Paris campaign office, according to remarks posted on his website. “This battle -- I regret it -- has been lost.”

France and Austria yesterday lost their top credit ratings in a string of downgrades that left Germany with the euro area’s only stable AAA grade as S&P warned that crisis-fighting efforts are still falling short.

Sarkozy has narrowed Hollande’s lead in polls leading up to the April and May elections. According to a BVA institute poll published this week in Le Parisien newspaper, Hollande would win the second round of the ballot with 57 percent of votes. A similar poll in December showed Hollande leading by 59 percent to Sarkozy’s 41 percent.

To contact the reporter on this story: Fabio Benedetti-Valentini in Paris at fabiobv@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Frank Connelly at fconnelly@bloomberg.net; Edward Evans at eevans3@bloomberg.net

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