March 19, 2020 / 8:22 AM / 3 months ago

Le Maire to present Macron with plans for top firms, nationalisations possible

FILE PHOTO: French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire looks on during a meeting with his Greek counterpart Christos Staikouras (not pictured) at the Finance Ministry in Athens, Greece, February 25, 2020. REUTERS/Costas Baltas/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) - French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Thursday that he would soon present to President Emmanuel Macron various plans and options to help the country’s biggest companies cope with the coronavirus crisis, including possible nationalisations.

“We have several options on the table for all of the major industrial companies which could face major threats on the market. It could be us raising our stake in their capital....or it could be nationalisations,” Le Maire told France Inter radio.

“We have all these options on the table, we are looking at them all, and I will be presenting them all to the President quite imminently,” he said.

Some French companies in which the state holds a stake have suffered steep drops in their share prices due to the outbreak, although news of a new ECB bond buying plan boosted them on Thursday along with the broader stock market.

With production halted due to the outbreak, carmakers are among those to see the sharpest declines in their shares. Renault (RENA.PA), in which the state has a 15% stake, has suffered a 62% drop in its share price since the start of the year while rival PSA Peugeot Citroen (PEUP.PA), 12% owned by the Bpifrance public investment bank, is down 52%.

Meanwhile, the halt in air travel has sent Air France KLM (AIRF.PA), in which the French state holds a 14% stake, shares down 54% this year.

Reporting by Leigh Thomas, Sudip Kar-Gupta, Mathieu Rosemain; editing by Jason Neely and Raissa Kasolowsky

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