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INVESTMENT

Global execs to air views on France to Hollande

The French president will welcome the heads of over 30 foreign companies to the Elysée Palace on Monday in order to hear their views on how to make France more attractive to foreign investors. All subjects including tax laws, will be up for discussion.

Global execs to air views on France to Hollande
Hollande will meet with heads of internional firms on Monday. Photo: AFP

The heads of 34 foreign companies will be welcomed at the Elysée Palace on Monday where they will get a chance to air their views to the French president about the state of France and how it can pull in more foreign investment, which recent figures show has plummeted.

Chief executives from giants like General Electric, Intel, Kingfisher, Nestlé, Samsung and Siemens have been invited to the Elysée for a summit under the title of "Strategic Council for Attractiveness".

With the global companies, worth a combined total of around €850 billion and employing three million employees, including 100,000 in France, it is no wonder Hollande wants to seduce them and hear their views.

There will also be 11 government ministers at the talks, including Arnaud Montebourg, the minister for industrial renewal and Nicole Bricq, who is the minister for foreign trade.

SEE ALSO: France must sell itself to US firms or lose out

Everything will be up for discussion, including France’s tax and social legislation, which might provide the subject of one of the livelier discussions on Monday.

“There will be some complicated issues, but the principle is to have a debate where there are no taboos,” a source at the Elysée told Le Figaro.

The Local reported earlier this month that figures in a United Nations report showed France saw a 77-percent decline in direct foreign investment in 2013, while the global average was an 11-percent increase.

France's results were the worst in the European Union, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade Development report

The decline meant $5.7 billion (€4.2 billion) less invested in France as the country battles stubbornly high unemployment which, at 11.1 percent, is at an historic level.

Following Monday's summit, Hollande is expected to announce various measures at making France more welcoming to international companies and investors.

It is the latest move in Hollande’s battle to woo the world of business and comes after he announced his much-vaunted “responsibility pact” that will aim to create thousands of jobs by cutting payroll charges for companies.

The conference began on Sunday night, when the Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault held an informal dinner with the business leaders so they could “share their wealth of experience”.

“Investment is and was from the outset a priority of my government,” Ayrault said, according to Europe1.

“My ambition is that France is at the forefront of any great changes in the world," he added.

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SYRIA

French group to open two hotels in Damascus

France's Louvre Hotels Group has signed an agreement to open two hotels under its own name in Damascus, the first with a western hotel operator since Syria's brutal civil war began in 2011.

French group to open two hotels in Damascus
Louvre owns the Golden Tulip five-star brand. Photo: Louvre Hotels Group
The confirmation of the two hotels opening, after recent media reports, came a day after the UN announced an internal investigation into the bombing of hospitals in Syria, and as at least six civilians were killed by the Syrian regime and Russian fire in northwestern Idlib province in the past days, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
 
The region of around three million people, many of them displaced by fighting in other areas, is one of the last holdouts of opposition fighting against the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
   
The Hayat Tahrir al-Sham alliance led by Al-Qaeda's former Syria affiliate controls most of Idlib as well as parts of neighbouring Aleppo and Latakia provinces.
   
The hotels “will open soon under the brand name of Louvres Hotels Group,” the company, which is owned by China's Jin
Jiang, said in a statement.
 
Louvre Hotels Group said the deal was signed between Syria's Nazha Investment Group and “a partner with whom Louvre Hotels cooperates in the Middle East”.
   
The exact number of people killed in Syria's war is unknown but hundreds of thousands have died.
   
Several dozen medical facilities with links to the UN have been damaged or destroyed by bombs this year. Russian has denied deliberately targeting civilian installations.
   
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Friday said an internal inquiry would look into the bombing of hospitals in Syria which had previously flagged their coordinates to avoid air strikes.
   
“The deal is strictly in line with international law and all international directives regarding Syria,” the French company statement said.
   
According to the website, The Syria Report, it is the first agreement with a western hotel operator since 2011, when the devastating conflict began. Louvre Hotels Group was taken over by China's Jin Jiang in 2015 and it operates more than 1,500 hotels in 54 countries.
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