SHARE
COPY LINK

INTERNET

French minister blasted for saying ‘Non’ to Yahoo!

After the recent Titan-Goodyear rumble France's industry minister Arnaud Montebourg has got himself into another scrap over a potential US takeover of a French firm, this time over Yahoo!'s bid for Dailymotion. He was slammed on Thursday for interfering.

French minister blasted for saying 'Non' to Yahoo!
Yahoo!'s bid to buy France's Dailymotion is derailed by Minister Montebourg. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images North/AFP

In an interview with business newspaper Les Echos, the chief executive of France Telecom Stephane Richard said the firm's management – and not the government – should be deciding the strategy for Dailymotion, owned by France Telecom, which uses the brand name Orange.

"Dailymotion is a subsidiary of Orange and not the state. It is the company, its management and its board that manages this issue," Richard said.

"I had refused Yahoo! the option of buying all of Dailymotion and we were on the verge of finding an arrangement," he said.

Yahoo! Inc. had been in talks to buy a 75 percent stake in Dailymotion, a leading video-sharing website in Europe. But the government, which holds a 27 percent stake in France Telecom, had insisted on a 50-50 split.

Industrial Renewal Minister Arnaud Montebourg said on Wednesday he had met with Yahoo! executives and blocked the deal because the US firm was seeking to "devour" the French company, which he referred to as a "French nugget."

"Yahoo! wanted to devour Dailymotion. And we said 'No' to them," Montebourg told Europe 1 radio on Thursday.

"It's in France's interest, and the interests of Dailymotion, which is a French nugget that we must protect," he added.

Montebourg said the government wanted a "balanced" agreement that would allow Dailymotion to retain its identity.

The collapse of the agreement dealt another blow to France's business image, with the outspoken Montebourg at the centre of complaints in the corporate world that France's Socialist government is anti-business.

Richard said France Telecom was now on the hunt for other potential partners to work with Dailymotion, which is seeking to expand its reach.

"Our priority is to find an ally who can help develop Dailymotion outside Europe," he said.

"We had looked at more than 60 potential partners in France and abroad before focusing on Yahoo!. Now we will restart our search."

For his part, Montebourg has elsewhere shown himself to be very open to American takeovers of French companies, in recent times.

In February, he made headlines after writing to Maurice Taylor, CEO of American tyre giant Titan, soliciting interest in the takeover of a loss-making Goodyear plant in Amiens, northern France. 

In the end, however, Montebourg became embroiled in a very public war of words with the US industrialist, after Taylor rebuffed the minister's advances, writing, "How stupid do you think we are?"

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

TECH

Google to appeal €500m French fine in copyright row

Google's legal tussle with French regulators continues.

Google to appeal €500m French fine in copyright row
Google to appeal €500m French fine in copyright row (Photo by ALAIN JOCARD / AFP)

Google on Wednesday said it is appealing a decision by France’s competition watchdog to hand it a €500m fine in a row with news outlets over the use of their content under EU copyright rules.

“We disagree with some of the legal elements, and consider the amount of the fine to be disproportionate compared to the efforts we have put in place to reach a deal and respect the new law,” Sebastien Missoffe, head of Google France, said in a statement.

The fine, issued by the French Competition Authority in July, was the biggest in the agency’s history for a failure to comply with one of its rulings.

Head of Google France, Sebastien Missoffe, has hit back against French regulators (Photo by JACQUES DEMARTHON / AFP)

The watchdog said Google had failed to negotiate “in good faith” with media companies in a long-running legal battle over the internet giant’s use of snippets of articles, photos and videos in search results.

The row has centred on claims that Google has used this content in its search results without adequate compensation, despite the seismic shift of global advertising revenues towards the search giant over the past two decades.

In April last year, the French competition authority ordered Google to negotiate “in good faith” with media groups after it refused to comply with a 2019 European Union law governing digital copyright.

The so-called “neighbouring rights” aim to ensure that news publishers are compensated when their work is shown on websites, search engines and social media platforms.

Last September, French news publishers including Agence France-Presse (AFP) filed a complaint with regulators, saying Google was refusing to move forward on paying to display content in web searches.

While Google insists it has made progress, the French regulator said the company’s behaviour “indicates a deliberate, elaborate and systematic lack of respect” for its order to negotiate in good faith.

The Competition Authority rebuked Google for failing to “have a specific discussion” with media companies about neighbouring rights during negotiations over its Google Showcase news service, which launched late last year.

Missoffe insisted Wednesday that Google “recognises neighbouring rights, and we remain committed to signing agreements in France”.

“We have extended our offers to nearly 1,200 publishers and modified aspects of our contracts,” he said, adding that the company has “shared data demanded of us in order to conform to the Competition Authority’s decision”.

SHOW COMMENTS