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INVESTMENT

Foreign investors fall back in love with Paris

Two new studies have revealed that foreign investors are once again being charmed by Paris after having been turned off for a while. Although the City of Light will have to do some major flirting to match the kind of investment seen in London and Shanghai.

Foreign investors fall back in love with Paris
The La Défense business district of Paris, where much of the foreign investment is based. Photo: Trey Ratcliffe/Flickr
A benchmarking study by KPMG on the best cities for foreign investors has found that the French capital appears to have regained its economic attractiveness, leaping four spots from previous 7th place, slipping past the likes of New York, Hong Kong and Sao Paulo.
 
This means that in the new 2015 monitor, published this week, Paris ranked third out of 25 major cities after London and Shanghai as an attractive destination for foreign companies that was based on the number of new international investments.
 
KPMG tallied up 170 examples of foreign investments in just the city of Paris, "meaning activities that created jobs and new business", KPMG specifies.
 
And a separate study revealed that there were 368 foreign investment projects in the whole of the Ile de France region last year, which reflects a 32 percent rise on 2013, the news site 20 Minutes reports.
 
"Paris, which experienced a crisis of confidence, has regained credibility with foreign investors," said KPMG's Nicolas Beaudouin.
 
But to put it in a little perspective, London saw 359 new investment projects and Shanghai 267, so Paris still has some serious charming to do to attract those kind of numbers.
 
In the KPMG study Paris scored well across the board, especially in the ranking of the number of new investments in strategic functions, where it rose from 8th place last year to third – an increase only matched by Dublin which moved up to 5th place.
 
Jay Nirsimloo, the CEO of KPMG, explained that Paris fared well thanks to the quality of its infrastructure, the availability of talent, and the quality of life – which work together to attract job-creating investments and new businesses. 
 
The report found that international investors in Paris come mainly from within Europe –  51 percent, with 36 percent coming from North America, 9 percent from Asia, and 2 percent from the Middle East.
 
The news may come as a welcome relief for the French, where doom and gloom have plagued the economy in recent years.
 
The government has scrambled to kickstart the country's economy this year, pushing through controversial new reforms to tackle an unemployment rate that suffered an almost 6-percent rise from 2013 to 2014. 
 
And there is doubtless a wealth of available talent, with 3.48 million people claiming jobless benefits in January alone
 
Tuesday's study was carried out for the Greater Paris Investment Agency, a non-profit organization established by the Paris Chamber of Commerce.
 
KPMG says the monitor was designed to provide international decision makers with arguments on which to base their future investments.

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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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