Le Maire Vows to Protect Big French Companies From Predators

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire vowed to protect big French companies in strategic industries from hostile takeovers, saying the government welcomes “investment, not predators.”

“We have tools that allow us to fight against predators who would want to buy a series of large French companies on the cheap,” Le Maire said Sunday at the Rencontres Economiques conference in Aix-en-Provence, France. “We won’t stand idle, and we’ll use the necessary tools to protect the economic and strategic interests of our country.”

Bruno Le Maire

Photographer: Christophe Morin/Bloomberg

He declined to say if he was referring to specific corporate targets.

As in the U.S., the French government can intervene to protect companies deemed to be of national importance from being acquired. In 2005, it passed an anti-takeover decree amid speculation PepsiCo Inc. was planning a bid for dairy-products maker Danone.

In 2014, France broadened the law that was mainly focused on its defense-related industry, adding the fields of energy, transport and health, as it tried to block Alstom SA’s plan to sell its energy divisions to General Electric Co. The government eventually approved the deal after it obtained some concessions.

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