After several weeks of hesitation, the government announced Tuesday, have given the green light to sales of assets in the French games, Paris Airports and Engie, incorporating in the new law Covenant of the steps that open the way to privatisation. The bill, supported by the Economy minister Bruno le Maire, will allow the executive to dispose of such securities “by amending the thresholds for detention” currently set by the law, has indicated Bercy during a meeting with the press. According to the legal restrictions present, the State must hold at least 50% of the share capital of ADP or 30% of the capital of Engie.
The text does not specify, however, not the amounts that could be assigned, nor to which these assets could be sold. These decisions will be made “in due course”, explained the ministry. Bercy has clarified, however, that some of these assignments would be open to the general public.
The executive had the doubt for several weeks on the fact whether the provisions permitting transfers of assets to ADP, FDJ and Engie would be integrated or not to the law Covenant. The bill originally sent to the Council of State by Bercy did and not the component judged to be politically sensitive privatisation. The latter was eventually addressed in recent days to the highest administrative court, which had reviewed.
Refocus the portfolio public on the essential
These dispositions, which are intended to refocus the public portfolio on the sectors considered essential, will be used to feed a fund of € 10 billion for the disruptive innovation, launched early this year by the government.
This fund consisted of 1.6 billion euros from sales of securities Engie and Renault, while in parallel, 8.4 billion euros of securities, EDF and Thales, the remaining property of the State, had been mobilized. The new assignments announced today, Tuesday, may replace these € 8.4 billion in the interim. Bercy does not preclude use of a portion of the transfers to the debt of the State.
“The units of the State in these listed companies represent around 15 billion euros that are now locked-in and which do not allow us to invest for our future,” said Economy minister Bruno Le Maire, in an interview published Tuesday night on the website of the newspaper Les Echos.
According to Bercy, safeguards have been provided to avoid that the privatisation of Airports of Paris, of the Engie and the Française des jeux put in danger the interests of the State. For the lottery operator, the State currently owns 72% of the capital. According to a source close to the file, it might come down to the level of 25% or 30% of the share capital, with an ipo. Bercy also plans to strengthen the regulation of the sector, either by the creation of “an independent authority” or by “the use of an existing authority”.
Finally, for Engie, Bercy has indicated that he would “lift the constraint of capital ownership”, with the removal of the detention minimum of one-third of the voting rights. These privatisations “reflect the desire to create more wealth and prepare for our future,” still said Bruno Le Maire, the Echos, adding that “this movement of transformation” was conducted “at a reasonable pace, without brutality”.
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The examination of the text should begin “in the month of September”, according to the ministry, which expects adoption in early 2019.