Hollande Giving Workers Say in M&A Deepens Fortress-France Image
Below, Katy Dartford gets the thoughts of mountain residents on the issue… Richard Bromage, lives and works in Alps Richard Bromage Personally I think it is a good idea that the French authorities are clamping down on this. If you come on a ski holiday and cant ski you get lessons from a qualified ski guide. If you want to go off piste in an unfamiliar area you generally hire a professional ski guide. “So surely if you are being shown around an area for skiing by a host, should that host or guide not have some level of qualification? “Most of these ski hosts/guides are barely out of school, doing a ski season taking guests from chalets or hotels into the mountain environment with often very little or no knowledge. It is only a matter of time before something goes horribly wrong. Jen Mason, freelance outdoors instructor At last the authorities in France are taking a stand against this sort of arrangement. Hopefully they’ll be equally proactive in targeting companies that offer snowshoeing and summer walking holidays too. As an International Mountain Leader (IML), I feel strongly that the practice of unqualified guides and leaders being used by companies which won’t pay for professionals should be stopped. It’s bad for clients, it’s bad for the industry, and, in France at least, it’s illegal. Zoe Smalley, trainee snowboard instructor Zoe Smalley At the end of the day the ESF/ENSA (Ecole Nationale de Ski et d’Alpinisme) make it so that thousands of people in mountain towns can make a decent living out of ski instructing during the winter, and I think it’s a good thing that they defend that. It’s not a xenophobic thing, but if you let lots of people who’ve done a one-week course or, worse, nothing, taking people out on the mountain for very little or no money, then that obviously can’t work. “Unfortunately holiday companies, especially English ones, will always take things too far… the idea of showing people the slopes is nice but when they’re basically giving lessons I can see why it’s a problem. Plan your perfect ski holiday this season Ben Button, former holiday rep and ski host I was working as a rep when they told us we couldnt host, this was only at a local level but has obviously spread since.
The company began offering households rebates of as much as 10 percent on the state-set tariffs, it said on its website . France allowed EDF to raise residential electricity rates 5 percent on Aug. 1 and a further 5 percent next year. Last year, the rates were the second-lowest in the European Union, adjusted for average income, according to Eurostat. Frances regulator agreed with companies such as Direct Energie that the low rates meant they couldnt compete against state-controlled utilities. For years EDF was selling below cost of production through regulated rates, Direct Energie Chief Executive Officer Xavier Caitucoli said today on BFM radio. If EDF is allowed to cover its costs, competitors can compete with regulated rates. Its an important change. The opening of the market to competition has been an obstacle course. Direct Energie is gaining about 6,000 new clients a month, he said. The company, which merged with Poweo SA, had 798,000 power and 227,000 gas customers in France last year, compared with the nations 35 million power and 11 million natural-gas buyers. The markets are dominated by former monopolies, according to the latest Commission de Regulation de lEnergie figures. Direct Energie buys about 80 percent of its power from EDF nuclear output and gas from spot markets, its 2012 report shows.
Its implicitly aimed at foreigners and meant to defend French interests. Its ridiculous. The biggest French companies have significant foreign investors and are very international. Seen from abroad, this will scare everyone. The debate over protecting French interests has been a political hot potato since Canadian aluminum maker Alcan Inc. bought French rival Pechiney SA a decade ago, eventually breaking it up and shutting plants. More recently, ArcelorMittal, the worlds largest steelmaker, decided to shutter a plant in France in the north-eastern city of Florange. The plant was the site where French President Francois Hollande pledged a few months before being elected in May 2012 to pass a law forcing large firms to sell rather than close sites to cap unemployment, which now stands at a 14-year high. Socialist Credentials The Socialist president, whose popularity is at a record low, is trying to make good on that campaign promise after being accused by some unions of caving in to ArcelorMittal when he ruled against a proposal by Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg to temporarily nationalize the Florange plant last December. The event is a central episode in the ministers just-released book La bataille du made in France, on defending the countrys industry in the face of large corporations with questionable behavior. With the bill, Hollande is seeking to re-burnish his credentials with his base. To its opponents, the bill asks potential buyers to stay out. The provision forcing a search for a buyer of sites before their closure could be interpreted as telling foreign investors not to invest in France, Jean-Claude Rivalland, a partner at Allen & Overy LLP in Paris, said in an interview. In terms of perception, this could be a disaster. Further Complexity Even without the law, the state has not been shy about blocking deals. One such example this year was the failed attempt by Yahoo! Inc. to invest in YouTubes smaller rival DailyMotion, a unit of phone operator Orange SA (ORA) , in which the state is the single-biggest shareholder with a 27 percent stake.