Paris aims to surpass $14bn FDI mark at the 2024 Choose France summit

The French capital will host more than 180 global CEOs, sovereign wealth funds and institutional investors on Monday as part of the country's push to boost investment flows

Choose France Summit is an opportunity for the multinational conglomerates, as well as state and quasi-government investment funds, to explore investment opportunities in France. Bloomberg
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France is looking to improve upon the €13 billion ($14 billion) investment commitments it received last year as global corporate leaders and institutional investors, as well as some of the top sovereign wealth funds from the Middle East, arrive in Paris next week.

The Choose France Summit, the brainchild of President Emmanuel Macron, to woo foreign direct investment to the second-largest EU economy will be held on May 13 at the sprawling Château de Versailles in the French capital.

In its seventh attrition, the summit is France’s global showcase of its economic attractiveness and is hosted each year by the French government.

It is an opportunity for the multinational conglomerates, as well as state and quasi-government investment funds, to hold direct discussions with the government and political leadership in France and explore investment opportunities.

“The idea is to have one specific day when you can gather all the global investors and present to them … why they need to invest in our country,” a senior French government official said at a briefing to media ahead of the event.

With a total of 28 announcements worth about €13 billion in investments and accounting for more than 8,000 jobs, the sixth edition of Choose France cemented France’s place among top European FDI destinations.

The Inaugural summit in 2018 received €2.1 billion in FDI pledges for 10 projects and even during Covid in 2020, the country received €607 million in FDI commitments.

The scale has risen steadily since to almost €10.8 billion in 2022, reflecting the country’s green re-industrialisation efforts aimed at the production of equipment in the renewable and low-carbon energy sectors – wind, solar, nuclear and batteries – as well as electric vehicles components, according to government data.

On Monday, Mr Macron, a former Rothschild investment banker, will also hold a series of private investment round-table meetings with chief executives of private sector companies, officials said.

“One private session [will be] regarding the artificial intelligence and quantum investment opportunities in France … [with] some French unicorns also being present to showcase the ecosystem that we have created in France,” the officials added.

“Then there will be another private session of the French president with 10 to 12 international CEOs in terms of decarbonisation.”

The President will also hold a private session with top executives from Indian companies, as he looks to woo FDI from Asia’s third-largest economy, building on the trips he took to India and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Paris last July.

So far, 180 chief executives from all over the world have confirmed attendance, less than half of which are from the EU zone, about 20 per cent each from North Americas and Asia, while the rest accounting for other geographies.

Heads of private sector companies, as well as sovereign wealth funds from the broader Middle East, especially the six-member economic bloc of the GCC, will also have a strong showing at the Château de Versailles on Monday.

Chief executives of the Public Investment Fund, Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, Qatar Investment Authority, Kuwait Investment Authority, Bahrain’s Mumtalakat, representatives of Mubadala Investment Company in Abu Dhabi as well as Bahrain-based alternative investment company Investcorp are among those attending the summit next week, according to the French officials.

They will also attend some of the private sessions, including two with Mr Macron on AI and quantum investing to explore opportunities in that “specific vertical, as well as in the green energy sector".

“We will be happy to welcome more investments from them,” the officials said.

France is focused on re-industrialising the country, with major investments in the battery, hydrogen green manufacturing, as well as artificial intelligence, which a central plank of the country’s innovation policy and a “line that has been consistent and preserved for all investors," the officials said.

The country, which is trying to lower its debts and boost growth momentum is pursuing the France 2030 Investment Plan, an overarching agenda that aims to attract €54 billion in FDI by the end of this decade to build “the France of tomorrow”.

The twofold programme is focused on sustainable transformation of key sectors, including energy, automotive, aeronautics and space, as well as supporting the entire life cycle of innovation from the idea stage right up to industrialisation at scale.

France has deep trade, economic and political ties with Arab nations in the broader Middle East and North Africa region, especially with oil-exporting countries in the GCC.

Bilateral trade between the UAE and France reached €7 billion last year and is expected to increase further this year amid the deepening of investment and trade ties between the two countries, France’s Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness Franck Riester told The National in February.

The European economy is seeking partnership with UAE investors in sectors, including renewable energy, mobility, health, technology and artificial intelligence, he said on the sidelines of the World Trade Organisation’s 13th ministerial conference in Abu Dhabi.

Emir of Qatar meets PSG's Kylian Mbappe at Elysee Palace

Emir of Qatar meets PSG's Kylian Mbappe at Elysee Palace

The economic ties between the two nations have deepened in recent years following President Macron’s visit to the UAE in May 2022 and President Sheikh Mohamed’s visit to Paris the following July of that year.

The two leaders also oversaw the launch of the UAE-France Business Council in 2022, which is jointly led by Dr Al Sultan Al Jaber, managing director and group chief executive of Adnoc and chairman of Masdar, and Patrick Pouyanne, chairman and chief executive of France’s TotalEnergies.

The council is made up of 18 chief executives selected for their interest in strengthening investments between the two countries and held its second meeting earlier this year in Paris.

Emirati companies have already signed significant investment and co-operation agreements with their French counterparts.

Adnoc and TotalEnergies in 2022 signed a strategic agreement to explore investment opportunities across the energy value chain and collaborate in gas growth, carbon capture utilisation and storage, and trading and product supply.

Mubadala Capital, the asset management subsidiary of Mubadala, has also signed a $2.1 billion private equity partnership with French private investment house Ardian.

Mubadala in 2021 also signed an agreement with French public investment bank Bpifrance to expand their partnerships by an additional €4 billion, to be invested over a 10-year period.

An agreement between Mubadala and the French Ministry of the Economy also allows the Abu Dhabi government to potentially invest €1.4 billion in funds based in France or with significant exposure to the French economy.

Beyond the UAE, Paris has also managed to secure investment commitments from other GCC countries including Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

In February, Qatar announced more than $10 billion in investments in French start-ups and investment funds.

“Our choices are made exclusively on economic bases and the benefits that will be made for the benefit of our two countries and our two peoples,” Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim said during his state visit to France in February this year.

QatarEnergy and TotalEnergies also signed a 27-year LNG supply agreement in October, Qatar's largest and longest European gas deal. Deliveries are expected to start in 2026.

Last year Saudi Arabia and France also signed 24 agreements worth $2.9 billion at the France-Saudi Investment Forum in sectors including clean energy, manufacturing, aviation, energy, and healthcare, the state-owned Saudi Press Agency said at the time.

The French officials said the message from the president will be loud and clear to the global investment community at a time when FDI flows have somewhat waned for the broader Europe but has strengthened for France.

“We have made the reforms, we have lowered taxes … we have a pure green energy strategy investing in nuclear and renewables and we are an attractive country for investments, the official said.

“We will continue the reforms, the reforms to develop in innovation, the reforms to carry on [with] innovation and growth in France.”

Updated: May 11, 2024, 7:09 AM