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Foreign competitors ‘won’t buy French firms at low cost’ as govt tightens controls in strategic sectors

The French government will tighten restrictions on foreign investments from outside Europe in French companies to limit external control over strategic sectors and technology. Currently, non-European investments in French companies do not need government approval as long as the stake is 25 percent or less.

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Wednesday he would lower the threshold to 10 percent for investments in large companies until the end of the year.

“In this period of crisis, some companies are vulnerable, some technologies are fragile and could be bought by foreign competitors at a low cost. I won’t let it happen,” Le Maire told LCI television.

At the start of the year, the government tightened controls on non-European foreign investments, in particular by lowering the threshold for state-vetting to 25 percent from 33 percent previously, Reuters reported.

Le Maire also said that he would add biotechnology companies to a list of sectors that requires government approval for an investment from outside Europe to go ahead.