The State releases 7 billion euros to avoid the bankruptcy of Air France

Heard Wednesday in the Senate, Anne-Marie Couderc who chairs the Air France KLM group, was very clear. The French government’s announcement of massive aid to Air France was a matter of days. She was right. Friday evening, after a board meeting, the state, which owns 14.3% of the Air France KLM group, unveiled its plan to fly to the rescue of its national airline.

The financial envelope is impressive: 7 billion euros will be contributed to Air France in early May. This support will be provided in two ways: on the one hand, 4 billion euros in bank loans guaranteed by the State at 90%; on the other hand, a shareholder advance by the state of 3 billion, which Bercy will draw from the envelope of 20 billion intended for capital operations voted in the framework of the latest amending finance law.

KLM must also receive aid from the Dutch state. We are talking about 2 to 4 billion. But this plan should not be ready for a few days or even a few weeks.

Air France KLM group loses 25 million euros per day

This intervention by the French state in favor of Air France is anything but a surprise. As early as mid-March, the government claimed it would support its flagship company. On April 8, Bruno Le Maire, put the points on the i: “This is not a boost that Air France will need, it is massive support from the Statesaid the Minister of Economy. And Air France will have this massive support from the state. We want to preserve the airline which is a French industrial flagship at all costs.

There was an urgent need for the State to keep its promise because, in this period when world transport is almost at a standstill, Air France KLM is playing with its survival like others. “A need for liquidity is expected in the third quarter of 2020”, recognized Anne-Marie Couderc on Wednesday. Because even if Air France has an activity reduced to less than 5% of its usual offer and therefore a tiny turnover, its fixed costs (loans to pay for planes, maintenance, personnel costs despite the use of short-time working…) remain huge. As a result, the Air France KLM group is losing 25 million euros a day.

A scenario seems to be emerging which could be a return to the level of activity from 2019 around 2022

Ben Smith, CEO of Air France KLM

Aid from the French government was all the more expected since many other countries have already drawn their plans to save their companies. Singapore bailed out Singapore Airlines. The Trump administration has developed a package of measures for airlines worth $ 50 billion (25 billion in loans and 25 billion in aid).

This contribution of fresh money will be welcome for Air France because air transport is likely to be in turmoil for a long time. “A scenario seems to be emerging which could be a return to the level of activity from 2019 around 2022”, Air France KLM chief executive Ben Smith said in the Senate on Wednesday. This help, the group also counts on it to be able to participate in the consolidation of the sector which, according to Ben Smith will take place “In the world and in Europe.” Clearly, at the end of the crisis, be able to buy companies in bad shape or enter their capital.

If France has been slow to complete this rescue plan, it is for several reasons. First, it had to coordinate with the Netherlands, also shareholders of the Air France KLM group to the extent of 14.3% and with whom relations on the group’s governance are often troubled.

To convince French banks – two of the largest French banks would miss the rescue of space – and international banks, the French government had to guarantee loans up to 90% rather than 70%. Above all, it must make a commitment now, through the shareholder advance which gives guarantees of a future recapitalization. “The involvement of the banks shows their confidence”, indicates a source close to the file.

Hop! under pressure

In return, Air France has committed to making two copies: an economic plan, which must, according to someone close to the case, “Air France one of the most profitable airlines in its category”, and an ecological plan.

The group’s transformation plan presented in November will be “Accentuated”said Ben Smith on Wednesday. Air France’s domestic network, structurally in heavy losses, could be revised downwards. Among the ideas mentioned, reduce the interregional links provided by Hop! and transfer Air France routes from Orly to Transavia, the group’s low-cost subsidiary.

The company will continue to offset 100% of its carbon emissions on all its domestic flights as it has been doing for a few months

This restructuring will join ecological ambition. For the government, the plane is no longer justified when there is a rail alternative in less than two and a half hours (except to power the hub). The company will also continue to offset 100% of its carbon emissions on all its domestic flights as it has been doing for a few months. And it will continue to renew its fleet at the rate planned with planes that consume less fuel. The government needed this commitment: it would have been difficult to lend billions if its flagship company did not make efforts in this area at a time when air transport’s responsibility for global warming was singled out.

The same advice for all files

Two banks – Crédit Agricole CIB and Citi – and a law firm – Allen & Overy – will support Bercy for all of the major “hot” files of the coming weeks and months.

This “horizontal mandate” relates, from concordant sources, to the implementation of loans guaranteed by the State (PGE) to very large companies, and in particular to groups of the portfolio of the State shareholder, as well as to the deployment of 20 billion euros planned – at this stage – for possible capital transactions and included in the just adopted amending finance law.

The PGE procedure for large groups was released last weekend by Fnac Darty (500 million euros, guaranteed by the State at 70%).

The Air France file, closed on Friday, was much more complex. The company is advised by HSBC bank. The state is also supported by the BDGS cabinet for the occasion.

See also –Social distancing: why conventional airlines are better off – Watch on Figaro Live

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Amazon keeps its French warehouses closed

Amazon France has lost the legal showdown engaged by the SUD union. The e-merchant drew the consequences Friday evening, and decided to extend the closure of its French warehouses until April 28. During this period, he will continue to pay his employees in full.

The decision rendered today by the Versailles Court of Appeal reinforces the idea that the main issue is not so much security, as the desire of certain trade union organizations to take advantage of a complex consultation process with social and economic committees, says Amazon. The penalty, as specified by the Court of Appeal, could imply that even a tiny rate of accidental treatment of unauthorized products, of the order of 0.1%, could result in a penalty of more than a billion euros per week. Unfortunately, this means that we have no choice but to extend the temporary suspension of the activity of our French distribution centers.

The Versailles Court of Appeal largely confirmed on Friday the decision rendered in summary proceedings on April 14 by the court of Nanterre. Amazon must restrict the activity of its French warehouses to certain categories of products; while waiting to make up for shortcomings related to employee health security.

This does not prevent Amazon, which had closed all of its warehouses following the first decision, to continue its commercial activity and to deliver its French customers from its warehouses abroad, or when shipping is taken care of by third-party sellers from its marketplace. From Fnac Darty to Cdiscount, most of his rivals have seen no impact from the closure of Amazon’s French warehouses on their own e-commerce activity for the past ten days.

Like the Nanterre court, the appellate court accuses Amazon of gaps in the protection of its employees from the risks associated with Covid-19. It also sanctions him for not having sufficiently consulted the employee representative bodies. The SUD union welcomed the ruling on Friday. “We welcome it. Amazon pays for ignoring alerts from staff, unions, and the Labor Inspectorate. He pays for the fact that he felt that everything had been done to protect employees. The judgment challenges this postulate in a major manner “, says Laurent Degousée, SUD-Solidaires central delegate.

SUD and CFDT lawyers point out that the judgment is all the more significant since it took into account Amazon’s practices at the date of the hearing in the court of appeal and not during the action in the first place.

As a result of these breaches, the court ordered Amazon to review its copy. The e-merchant is ordered to carry out an assessment of the professional risks linked to the Covid-19 epidemic across all of its French warehouses, this time involving staff representatives.

The court of appeal went further than the court in Nanterre, by requiring that the central social and economic committee (CSE) of the company in France be associated with this consultation, as well as the local CSEs of the six sites studied. Amazon has so far only done site by site. The e-merchant will have to implement all the protective measures that are missing.

“A long-awaited stop”

Until the American giant complies with its obligations, the court forced the company to restrict the products received, prepared and shipped to its warehouses. It thus confirms the first instance decision but widens the range of products that Amazon has the right to process in its warehouses, and above all, specifies the list. After the April 14 decision, Amazon said it could not distinguish in detail between authorized and prohibited products. Is a nail clipper an essential product? Faced with this uncertainty which could cost it dearly, Amazon had chosen to close all its warehouses. The court this time ordered Amazon to reduce the activity of its warehouses to high-tech products, computer, office, pet, health and body care, drugstore, grocery and drinks.

The court ruled that Amazon’s actions were not up to the pandemic and had been taken day by day without a master plan

Lionel Vuidard, associate lawyer at Linklaters

The penalty imposed in the event of default has also been reduced, to 100,000 euros per product, instead of 1 million euros. Insufficient, however, in the eyes of Amazon, who believes that the risk of an exorbitant penalty is still too high.

Beyond Amazon, the decision of the Versailles Court of Appeal will be scrutinized by a number of companies. “This judgment was eagerly awaited by our customers, who sometimes say that they have not done any better in terms of employee protection”, notes Lionel Vuidard, associate lawyer at Linklaters. The court did not deny that Amazon had taken numerous protective measures (reorganization of the shift gates, deactivation of the gantry cranes to smooth the passage, freezing, proposed temperature measurement, etc.).

“What is striking is that Amazon has implemented many measures”, Sabrina Kemel, lawyer at FTMS, also notes. But “The court considered that these actions were not up to the pandemic and had been taken day by day without a master plan mastered”, explains Lionel Vuidard. Amazon pays mainly for the gaps in social dialogue within the company. “The CSE should have been consulted on major changes which have changed the organization of work but have not been. However, this does not explain the restriction of activity “, believes the lawyer.

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State guaranteed loan of 5 billion euros under study for Renault

The Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire announced this Friday that the French State envisaged a bank loan guaranteed by the State of approximately 5 billion euros to help the automobile group Renault to cross the crisis of the coronavirus.

“We are working on a loan of 5 billion euros for Renault, which this time would be a loan guaranteed by the State”, declared the minister on TF1. “What is at stake? It’s our automotive industry, it’s an industrial flagship that belongs to our culture, to our history, Renault! It’s a million jobs across our territory that are linked to the automotive industry ”said Bruno Le Maire. Emphasizing character “historical” of the crisis, the minister continued: “I want every entrepreneur, whether he is the head of an SME, a VSE, or the head of a large company, to know that the State will be by his side and that we will do everything that ‘It will cost, whatever the cost, to defend our businesses’, he said in particular.

This state aid had been in the air for several weeks: as of April 8, Bruno Le Maire had opened the door to state support for the builder, in which he controlled 15% of the capital. Renault was confident Thursday on its solvency, despite a turnover which plunged 19.2% in the first quarter, to 10.1 billion euros, victim of the collapse of the world market caused by the coronavirus epidemic.

“A safety net, nothing more”

The group, degraded by the rating agencies, burned 5.5 billion cash over three months for the automotive activity alone. However, it still had 10.3 billion in cash reserves at the end of March, said Renault, however. Acting Executive Director Clotilde Delbos said on a conference call with analysts on Thursday that the use of state-guaranteed loans represented “Only a safety net (…), nothing more” and that this was justified by the unknowns on the duration of the crisis and the pace of recovery.

The French manufacturer, which recorded its first losses in ten years last year, had seen its rating lowered in April to the rank of speculative investment by Standard and Poor’s. The manufacturer’s global sales volumes to the five brands (Renault, Dacia, Lada, Renault Samsung Motors and Alpine) fell 25.9% to 672,962 vehicles, in a market that tumbled 24.6% in January to March, which allowed it to maintain its market share of 4.1%.

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how much do screening tests cost?

500,000 screening tests per week from May 11. The government’s objective is clear: the end of containment will be accompanied by a major screening campaign. For the past few weeks, the executive has displayed its willingness to evolve on its strategy in the face of the new Coronavirus, in order to avoid an upsurge in the epidemic in the coming weeks.

If you have symptoms and want to know if you are sick, or if you have been in close contact with a person who is known to be sick, you can, you should benefit from this virological test», Assured Olivier Véran. Currently, 150,000 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests are performed each week, said the Minister of Health last week. For comparison, Germany already performs an average of 400,000 tests per week, according to the Robert-Koch Institute.

In April, the departmental laboratories came to reinforce the national effort, whereas they had been excluded from human biology since 2011. “ At the rate at which things are changing, it is difficult to be certain of the number of tests that can be carried out after May 11Explains to Figaro Frédéric Altare, immunologist and research director at Inserm.

How much do PCR type screening tests cost?

Conventional PCR tests, which seek to detect the presence of the virus, are billed by city laboratories for 54 euros and are carried out on medical prescription. “Their price was defined by an agreement between the Health Insurance, the manufacturers, the city laboratories and the State “Says the Ministry of Health. They were registered, on March 8, 2020, in the nomenclature of medical biology acts by order of the Minister of Health.

These tests are reimbursed up to 60% by Health Insurance (CNAM), like any biology test, while the mutual (or CMUc) covers the remaining 40%. “The price of the tests takes into account the pre-analytical, analytical and post-analytical phases. It is also the gross cost of the reagent, quality controls, labor cost for the sample preparation and testing stages, as well as the time for biological validation and interpretation of the test.Explains to Figaro the Union of Young Medical Biologists. Tests not included in the nomenclature are not reimbursed. Their purchase price per unit varies between 30 and 50 euros.

How much do serology tests cost?

In addition to conventional screening methods, healthcare professionals are looking into the use of serological tests. Carried out from a blood test, these tests can detect people who have developed a form of immunity against the virus thanks to the presence of antibodies. These tests are not, to date, listed in the nomenclature and are therefore not reimbursed by Health Insurance. They remain the responsibility of the patient or of various actors through local initiatives, such as town halls, departments or nursing homes.

Today, the situation around serological tests is very confused. Many non-validated tests circulate on the market, with a price oscillating between 10 and 25 euros per unit for quick tests at your fingertips “Explains the Union of Young Medical Biologists.

The ELISA serology test, developed by the major diagnostic manufacturers, displays unit prices around 15 euros. Last week, the Swiss pharmaceutical group Roche, announced that it is working actively with the American drug agency, the Food and drug administration (FDA), to obtain a marketing authorization for the tests in early May, as part of an emergency procedure.

Limited production capacities

The new nature of the epidemic restricts the ability of manufacturers to set up test production lines sufficient to support global demand in record time. “ The limited production capacity explains the rather high cost of the tests. In addition, the PCR technique requires the use of high technology, which is very expensive vis-à-vis serology. Not all French laboratories are equipped with machines and reagents“Explains the Union of Young Medical Biologists.

Mass production of PCR tests on French soil would require the purchase of expensive machines. “ These machines cost between 100,000 and 150,000 euros, or even 250,000 for the most expensive. The cheapest are available around 50,000 euros“, Continues the Syndicate. In addition to purchasing equipment, laboratory staff should also be trained in the use of the tests.

If the French production capacities remain limited, the executive thus puts on the order of these tests by millions. But competition for the purchase of tests is raging between countries. Like China and the United States, with the giants Abbott, Becton Dickinson and Cepheid, the countries benefiting from diagnostic industrialists on their soils supply local demand first before exporting. While some states have chosen, for the time being, not to export.

Testing the entire population in PCR would be very difficult in terms of means, the sampling is rigorous, long and painful. In addition, a negative test can be positive 2 days later and it is impossible to screen everyone, as regularly“, Supports the Syndicate. “The idea would be to draw inspiration from states like Taiwan or South Korea who have implemented a targeted strategy, a strict confinement of positive people and a system of tracing those around them. The hotels could allow the future confinement of those affected ”.

If their reliability rate, of the order of 60%, remains to be improved, the use of a massive use of serological tests seems feasible. “ Analysis laboratories are equipped and capable of producing hundreds of thousands per dayExplains the Syndicate. For its part, the Ministry of Health tells the Figaro than “serology tests, not validated for diagnosis or immunity research, will only be deployed selectively for specific uses (seroprevalence or new studies) ” During questions to the government on Tuesday, Edouard Philippe showed reluctance in the face of a “usage doctrineOf these tests. The Prime Minister considered that their low reliability rate did not allow “to design a public health policy” He also questioned the value of this type of screening even though immunity to the new coronavirus has not been established.

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justice maintains restrictions on the sale of products in France

A mixed victory for the Solidaires union union. This Friday, the Versailles Court of Appeal confirmed the judgment rendered ten days earlier by the Nanterre court. Amazon will therefore “proceed, by associating staff representatives, with the assessment of the occupational risks inherent in the Covid-19 epidemic in all of its warehouses as well as the implementation of the measures provided for in article L. 4121-1 of the resulting Labor Code

Nevertheless, the American group obtained a relaxation of the restriction of the activity of its warehouses. Previously reserved for a limited number of categories of goods, such as groceries or health, its warehouses can now also handle those belonging to groups “High-tech, IT, Office”, “Everything for animals in the Home, DIY, Pet shop” section, Health and body care, Men, Nutrition, Parapharmacy in the Beauty, Health and Well-being section“And”Groceries, Drinks and Maintenance“Declares the Court of Appeal.

The company has two days to submit to these rules, pending a risk assessment. After this time, she exposes herself to “a fine of 100,000 euros“For each prepared order that does not fall within this framework,”for a maximum of one month

Social partners welcome decision

During a telephone press conference, several union players welcomed the decision of the court of appeal. The CFDT lawyer thus welcomed “sacred union»Of the social partners facing Amazon. “Before the Court of Appeal, we had a real collaborative work“Between unions for”resist the arguments raisedBy the group, he said. The secretary general of FO Transports, Patrice Clos, said that “David won against Goliath“:”even if we are a global and American mega-giant moreover, that does not prevent that there are French laws and that we must respect them“, He hammered. The CGT Transport Federation, for its part, regretted the posture “hard-hittingFrom the firm.

Shortly after the communication from the court of appeal, the Amazon group reacted. In a press release, the company said it had “noted the outcome of [son] call” “We will assess as soon as possible the consequences of this decision for our business as well as for our employees, for customers in France as well as for the many French VSEs and SMEs who rely on Amazon to develop their business.He wrote.

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New consultation on the support plan for the hotel and restaurant sectors

Will cafes, bars and restaurants reopen on June 15? If the government still refuses to provide an answer to this question, it nevertheless wishes to assure this sector in crisis of its support.

With this in mind, Emmanuel Macron held a videoconference on Friday morning with representatives of the hotel, catering and tourism sectors, in the presence of Bruno Le Maire (Economy), Gérald Darmanin (Budget) and Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne ( Trade). The meeting was devoted to the aid plan intended to support this sector hard hit by the coronavirus crisis.

“A strategy at local and national level” necessary

A recovery plan from which professionals expect a lot, in particular the exemption from the payment of local taxes in 2020, the cancellation of rents for six months and the at least partial coverage of operating losses.

Thursday, the president of the Hauts-de-France region Xavier Bertrand (ex-LR), and the mayor of Lille Martine Aubry also called on the government to mobilize asking, in particular, “The creation by the State of an investment fund”. Among them, “The incentive by the State to insurers so that they cover at least partially the loss of turnover that restaurants, cafeterias and hoteliers record”, they write with the president of the Lille European Metropolis, Damien Castelain, in a letter sent to Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and of which AFP obtained a copy.

Because if cafes and restaurants “Are ready to put in place the necessary health rules, both to protect their customers and their employees”, “A real strategy at the local level, as at the national level” is necessary “To allow the reopening in the best conditions of the hotel, cafe and restaurant sector”. Indeed, “In view of the imperatives of social distancing, a limitation in the number of tables in the dining room or on the terrace could lead a professional to work at a loss”, explain the three elected officials.

The reopening date still pending

Another strong expectation of bars, cafes and restaurants: knowing when they can reopen their establishments, of which they had to lower the curtain since March 14. A question mark on which the government does not want to lift the veil for now. Asked Wednesday about it, spokeswoman Sibeth Ndiaye did not confirm the hypothesis of a reopening on June 15. “We need time to develop the different scenarios for resumption of activity, so I obviously can not confirm this date of June 15“, She explained.

For their part, Xavier Bertrand, Martine Aubry and Damien Castelain also call to “give the profession visibility as quickly as possible, both on the health measures to be taken, but also on the possible date of recovery”.

Thursday morning, in a tribune at Le Figaro, Xavier Bertrand had already called to “save” the café-bars-restaurants which “Shape the identity of France” and find themselves stopped due to confinement. “We must save this essential link of our economic activity which is, with our museums, our cathedrals and our festivals, the pillar of our tourism, one of the emblems of our culture and a good part of the French art of living”, he said.

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Amazon decision on appeal expected today

The hour of verdict is approaching for Amazon. The Versailles Court of Appeal was seized last week by the company. The latter challenged the order of the Nanterre court ordering it to assess the risks associated with Covid-19 and to limit its deliveries in the meantime to only essential products; the appeals court will render its decision at 2 p.m. this Friday.

The court of Nanterre had ordered on April 14 to Amazon France to limit its activities to hygiene products, medical products and food pending a risk assessment conducted with staff representatives, under penalty of a fine of one million euros per violation found.

Amazon France, deeming it impossible to precisely define the products authorized for delivery, preferred to close its French sites (10,000 employees) initially until Thursday and appealed to the Versailles Court of Appeal, which examined the ‘Tuesday case.

Following the hearing, “we temporarily maintain the suspension of the activity of our French distribution centers. We will reassess our position once the judgment of the Court of Appeal is delivered on Friday April 24“Amazon announced Tuesday evening in a statement, noting that employees will be asked to”stay at home until Saturday 25 April inclusive“And that they”will receive their full salary

Me Judith Krivine, who defended Solidaires-SUD Commerce, pointed out at the hearing a lack of risk assessment, in particular psycho-social, on the part of Amazon, and reports pressure exerted on the employees who argued their right of withdrawal. For Laurent Degousée of SUD Commerce, “the only valid question is how we articulate freedom of enterprise and the right to the protection of the health of employees

According to this union, number one in the company, Amazon France pays “having acted unilaterally and having multiplied the publicity effects rather than having carried out a shared risk assessment” Amazon France said it had “again presented»Of«concrete evidence on the security measures that have been implemented, these having been applied in strict compliance with the directives of the French authorities and by associating with it the representatives of the personnel of our sites

A petition to return to work

Two employees at the Lauwin-Planque site (North), near Douai, launched a petition in favor of returning to work, signed on Tuesday by some 15,500 people.

The unions did not ask us for our opinion“Says Priscilla Soares, one of the initiators of the petition. If it recognizes that “at first Amazon was not prepared“, She judges that”it was quickly organized with safety distances and equipment“And ensures that”At no moment“She did not personally”felt in danger” The public prosecutor of Douai, Frédéric Teillet, also dismissed the complaint for “endangering the lives of othersFiled on March 31 by the local union of the CGT against Amazon, which operates a warehouse a few kilometers away.

The prosecution considered that Amazon had produced documents showing that there had been no “willful breach of a particular duty of care or safetyBy implementing measures that have followed the evolution of knowledge about the virus. And that the risk of contracting Covid-19 does not expose to a “imminent risk of death or serious injury

The current statistics counting to date more than 20,000 deaths in France from the Covid-19, are obviously likely to characterize the immediate risk of death or serious injury, by non-compliance with health and safety measures for Amazon company workers“Maintains for its part the CGT which”is surprised” of the “speedOf the classification without continuation.

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all non-food businesses will be able to reopen

Non-food distributors can see the end of the tunnel. The Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, clarified on Thursday morning on Franceinfo that all should reopen on May 11, regardless of the type of activity or the size of stores, as is the case in Germany, for example. “We are coming out of the crisis phase, we will enter a second phase of transition in which activity will resume, explained Bruno Le Maire. We hope that all businesses can reopen on May 11. For the sake of fairness, I simply leave aside restaurants, bars and cafes, which will be subject to specific treatment. “

This is a relief for most non-food merchants, who anticipate their reopening. “We have at least one date that allows us to get into battle order to prepare for customer reception, order merchandise or even organize communication, explains William Koeberlé, president of the French Trade Council. Some uncertainties still remain, but we hope that they will be resolved as early as next week.

50% drop in activity

Bercy still does not exclude to authorize this reopening only after May 11 in certain regions more affected by the virus. “The situation is not the same in Nouvelle-Aquitaine or Île-de-France, where the virus circulates a lot. It will be up to the health authorities to make recommendations to us“Said Bruno Le Maire. The Minister’s intention, however, is to reopen all businesses on May 11 as much as possible.

Distributors anticipate a 50% drop in activity after containment

This does not mean that all the brands that will have the right to do so. DIY stores, which were allowed to open during containment, remained mostly closed. Distributors anticipate a 50% drop in activity after containment, which could encourage them to restrict their opening hours, or to open only part of their stores.

The appointment on Thursday of Jeanne-Marie Prost, former president of the Observatory on payment deadlines, as mediator of rents is a second reason for satisfaction for distributors. Under the aegis of Bercy, the main donor federations undertook last week to cancel three months of rent for very small businesses which were forced to lower the curtain.

If the measure has been welcomed by the companies concerned, the problem remains unresolved for the largest brands, while rent can represent up to 20% of turnover. The distributors are demanding that the lessors take their share of the burden by canceling the rents due during the closure period, and by indexing them, after the confinement, to the turnover achieved.

We welcome the appointment of Jeanne-Marie Prost, whom we welcome with great hope, explain 16 merchant federations. We approach this rent mediation with a constructive spirit and will be proactive in reaching an acceptable agreement. ”

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The stock market policeman sanctions the activist fund Elliott

The decision has been awaited since early February. The ax fell on Wednesday. And the sanction is exemplary: the American activist fund Elliott is fined a record 20 million euros by the Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF).

The case dates back to 2015. At the time, the Norbert Dentressangle transport group had just been the subject of a friendly takeover bid by the American XPO Logistics. The latter wanted to launch a withdrawal offer. But Elliott, who had bought a little more than 9% of Norbert Dentressangle, tried to block. To increase its capital, the fund had used sophisticated financial products: derivatives.

Created by the legendary Paul Singer, Elliott is among the most powerful activist funds on the planet

However, according to the AMF “Elliott has produced inaccurate statements about the nature of financial instruments” that he held and this in order to deceive the market. The AMF also accuses the fund of having deliberately concealed its strategy, in order to “To negotiate with XPO a revaluation of the offer price”. This is the second time that Elliott has been fined by the AMF: in 2014, the fund was fined 16 million euros in a case concerning the APRR motorway. Created by the legendary Paul Singer, Elliott is among the most powerful activist funds on the planet. Its firepower is approximately 40 billion dollars.

Vigilant government

In recent years, he has been particularly active in France. In particular, he entered the capital of Pernod Ricard at the end of 2018. Recently he tried, in vain, to block Capgemini’s takeover bid on Altran and he crossed swords with Vivendi on Telecom Italia.

In late February, according to Bloomberg, Elliott entered the capital of the chemist Arkema. Elliott and Arkema have neither confirmed nor denied the information. In the markets it is considered credible. “The objective for Elliott would be to accelerate the sales and the reorganization of Arkema, already well under way,” explains an operator. Since its separation from Total in 2006, the group has indeed shed a whole series of activities to focus on so-called specialty chemicals, which are more profitable.

The activists’ method is well established: they invite themselves to the capital of companies to influence their strategy and pocket capital gains

Arkema is a delicate target for the American fund. It has significant shareholders. Chance of the calendar, the strategic fund of participations of French bancassurers, shareholder of the group since its creation in 2012, announced Wednesday to be increased to 7.5%, with a long-term vision. Not sure that chemistry takes between Arkema and Elliott …

The activists’ method is well established: they invite themselves to the capital of companies to influence their strategy and pocket capital gains. The increasingly lively challenge is being organized. The finance committee of the National Assembly, Afep and Paris Europlace have made proposals so that activists are better supervised. The AMF is also working on the subject.

The government has said many times since the pandemic collapsed the Paris Stock Exchange that it would use all means at its disposal to prevent predators from taking advantage of it to destabilize the French flagships.

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brewers dried up by the closure of bars

The world number two Heineken saw its sales volumes decrease by 14% in March. Small independent players are also very affected

The Dutch brewer suffers from the closure of bars, hotels, restaurants, and nightclubs in many of the countries where it operates.
The Dutch brewer suffers from the closure of bars, hotels, restaurants, and nightclubs in many of the countries where it operates. MAXPPP / Kyodo / MAXPPP

While Coca-Cola reported Tuesday a 25% drop in sales volumes in April, Heineken confirms that consumers are no longer thirsty for alcoholic beverages. On Wednesday, the Dutch brewer known for its Heineken, Amstel and Desperados brands reported a 2.1% drop in volumes in the first quarter, and 14% in March alone. As well as a net profit down by almost 70%, to 94 million euros. In question: “The large-scale containment measures taken by many countries, such as movement restrictions for populations and store closings, sometimes combined with the compulsory locking of production facilities”, explains the group in a press release.

“This initial impact of the Covid-19 crisis (…) should worsen in the second quarter of 2020”, adds Heineken. A fortnight ago, the group had already suspended all of its financial objectives. Even if it is very present in supermarkets,

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