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Why France Inc. Is Still Going to Putin's Economic Summit

Électricité de France's Proglio at last year's St. Petersburg International Economic Forum
Électricité de France's Proglio at last year's St. Petersburg International Economic ForumPhotograph by Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg

U.S. corporate chieftains are scrambling to bail out of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s St. Petersburg economic summit this month. Their French counterparts are staying on board.

France plans to send more chief executive officers to the May 22-24 event than any other country, according to a participant list (PDF) updated on May 6. The roster includes the heads of seven major French companies, from oil giant Total to yogurt maker Danone. “Our plans have not changed,” says a spokesman for electrical equipment-maker Schneider, whose chief executive, Jean-Pascal Tricoire, is one of those scheduled to attend. “Russia is our fourth-largest market.”