The recommendations of Brussels are taken into account with a view to strengthening the control of foreign investments and extending it to the media. The project intervenes in full mistrust around the entry of a Czech billionaire in the capital of “World”.

Some 184 control operations over foreign acquisitions were carried out by the Ministry of Economy and Finance last year.

The project comes from Brussels, but Paris could see it as a very immediate reason for application. By the end of December, the State must publish the decree implementing the Pact law on strengthening the control of foreign investments. On this occasion, it will, according to our information, study its extension to the media. Paris must indeed take into account the recommendations of Brussels on the screening of foreign acquisitions in the Union. This sector is part of the list of “critical infrastructures” that the European Commission, in its regulation of March 19, recommends that States monitor.

The preparation of the decree fell in full suspicion around the entry of the Czech billionaire, Daniel Kretinsky, in the capital of the newspaper “Le Monde”. If the European text is aimed at investors outside the Union, the scope of the device in France is essentially aimed at any investor who crosses French borders. Shades could be introduced, but in Paris, the question is open.

Other critical sectors targeted by Brussels are not provided for by the French text, despite its very latest extension by the Pacte law to a series of sensitive activities (aerospace, civil protection, cybersecurity research, artificial intelligence, robotics, additive manufacturing, semiconductors, sensitive data hosting). This is the case for food security and access to personal data. For the first sector, the State considers the French framework sufficiently clear, since it already covers health. In terms of personal data, it is nevertheless working on better alignment with the European provision.

184 transactions reviewed

A sign that the executive does not intend to rely solely on the existence of texts – as parliamentarians accuse it – and carries out checks, Bercy published Thursday for the first time figures on its filtering operations. In total for the year 2018, 184 transactions were examined by the ministry, i.e. an almost doubling since the takeover of Alstom’s energy activity by General Electric and the publication in 2014 of the Montebourg decree.

China, put forward as a scarecrow for French companies, is almost non-existent in Bercy’s filtering operations. Half of the authorized investors are non-European, and mainly Americans, Canadians, Swiss and Japanese.

The new fields (energy supply, water, transport networks and services, electronic communications, health and organizations of vital importance) bring an increasing flow of operations to Bercy (45% of the operations targeted). The defense and security sectors in the strict sense only weigh 35%, and “mixed” companies, the remainder (20%).

Bercy does not give any indication on the rejections. Wanting to be open to foreign investment, France prefers to play on the conditions imposed on investors, which may or may not prove to be dissuasive and lead to abandonment. However, there remains the question of monitoring these commitments, and their articulation with those signed within the framework of more “political” agreements such as for Alcatel / Nokia and Alstom / General Electric.