Sarkozy says strategic fund to start in coming weeks
PARIS (Reuters) - France's strategic fund aimed at protecting domestic industries through the financial markets crisis will be set up in three weeks' time, President Nicolas Sarkozy said Thursday.
Sarkozy has long championed the need to nurture French industry and a slump in market values has raised concerns in government that some companies might become takeover targets for far-away multinationals.
"If you have companies that appear threatened, even though they have a promising future, the fund will be able to intervene," he told an audience of regional officials.
The strategic fund, agreed as part of a package of measures to bolster the French economy in the face of the financial crisis, had already been announced for the end of the year.
Sarkozy said the fund was not aimed at propping up struggling companies but at helping businesses with promising technologies through difficult times as well as in the future.
"It is not a tool to help companies in difficulty," he said. "The fund will invest the money of the French people. We don't intend to lose it simply to delay, without preventing, unavoidable restructuring measures."
The Caisse des Depots et Consignations, a publicly owned savings bank at the heart of the state's financial operations in the economy, will manage the fund.
Some French media speculated that the bank would have more than 100 billion euros ($130.6 billion) to work with, but a source in the presidential palace said no figure had been put on the fund.
The French state has already earmarked 360 billion euros to prop up the financial sector, as part of an international effort to help banks survive the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression in the 1930s.
Sarkozy has been under pressure to complement this rescue plan with measures to stimulate economic growth.
(Reporting by Yann Le Guernigou)
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