Just days after her calls for a European industrial policy were rejected at the Maastricht Summit, Prime Minister Edith Cresson is embarking on a grand design for a "Fortress France." She is taking rapid steps to find new cash to pump into France's state-owned high-tech sector, a money-loser. In her first move, on Dec. 18, she announced that she would shift both giant Thomson's consumer electronics division, which lost $490 million last year, and its debt-heavy chipmaker, SGS-Thomson Microelectronics Inc., to the industrial arm of the French Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), which harbors $3.8 billion in liquid assets. Industry sources think she also wants to assign sputtering computermaker Groupe Bull to France Telecom, a virtual cash machine. A similar shuffling of the French aeronautics industry may also be in the offing.
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