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French venture capital at record levels

According to the the March 22 edition of French financial daily La Tribune, venture capital in France in 2010 reached its highest levels since 2000. For those of you who cannot read the article (due to subscription restrictions), I have summed it up in English below.

An interesting linguistic note that reveals a lot about cultural differences is the expression in French for “venture capital”: capital-risque, or “risk capital”. So whereas the risk-taking “Anglo-Saxon” cultures positively think of investing in businesses as “ventures”, the actual French term emphasizes the traditional risk-averse culture of France (that is gradually evolving, as the article illustrates).

Another example of this difference is that more Americans and British invest in stocks for their pensions whereas it is less of a natural option for French workers. But this too is changing.

I have some venture capital links on my business in France page.

Do you have any views of venture capital and investments in France?

“Le capital-risque en France retrouve des niveaux record”

Venture capital funds invested about €1.05 billion in 2010 (compared to €910 million in 2009). This is the highest amount since 2000, when VC reached €1.14 billion.

Investment over the past six semesters (notice the dip 2nd half of 2009)

2008: €470 mil (1st semester), €556 mil (2nd semester)
2009: €503 mil (1st semester), €407 mil (2nd semester)
2010: €515 mil (1st semester), €532 mil (2nd semester)

Most capital came from local investment funds, or FIP (Fonds d’investissement de proximité) and innovation mutual funds, or FCPI (Fonds commun de placement dans l’innovation). In fact, the second half of 2010, FIP’s and FCPI’s represented 62.5% of investments.

N.B. you can learn more about these and other French investment terminology here. See below for explanation of FCPI from that link.

Another trend is that most venture capital firms invest in the last stage, or second rounds, instead of early stage investments. Early stage made up only 7% of VC investments in the last ten months of 2010.

One last note is that the health, life sciences and pharmaceutical industries make up almost 25% of venture capital investments.

FCPI: French type of mutual funds, created in 1997, intended to support the development of innovating firms.

The capital collected by a FCPI is invested at least up to 60 % in the capital of non listed companies, or of limited liability companies, to which the Agence nationale de la valorisation de la recherche (ANVAR) gives the label “innovating”.

Subject to keep the FCPI shares during at least five years, the subscriber profits from tax advantages at the time of the subscription (tax cut) and at the time of the resale (possible exemption of the cashed products and the appreciations in certain cases)

Women in business; top French SME’s with women in control

In honor of the 100th International Women’s Day (Journée da la Femme) The French financial newspaper La Tribune had a special report with several articles yesterday on women in business. They paired up with the group Women Equity for Growth for the special. Links to the articles are below (in French). La Tribune also organized a Women’s Awards night in November.

The Economist also put out a series of charts on women in society: in politics, on boards, at business schools, in work. These compare the position of women in several countries. Very interesting and pertinent study. As the article states, despite significant progress and opportunities for women in the past century, “…the difference in male and female employment rates in many countries is still large and persistent. While progress has been made, there is a long way to go before gender equality is reached.”

Expatica also features an article on “Four trends helping women in business move ahead.”

Meanwhile, a European Parliament group released a report on gender inequality and called for the European Commission to cut the gender pay gap by 1 percent per year.

La Tribune articles:

Article on Top 50 SME’s with women at top
PDF list of the Top 50
Les Editions Belin publisher adapting to 21st century technology
Interview with Union Plastic President Florence Poivey

There were also several special TV programs dedicated to the day:
“Dans le coeur des femmes” (special show with debate and discussion by feminists, journalists, business leaders, philosophers…), not yet available online
“Une semaine sans les femmes” men trying to manage the family without their wives
Chabada show to celebrate women (with songs, etc)

Internet as big as energy in France: 3.7% of GDP in 2010 and growing

French financial daily La Tribune reports that the Internet sector contributed to 3.7% of French GDP last year, worth 72 billion euros. It cites a report by McKinsey which states that the sector has created a net total of 700,000 jobs in France in the past 15 years.

At 14% annual growth, the sector should reach 5.5% of GDP by 2015, or 129 billion euros, creating another 450,000 jobs in France.

Moreover, companies that invest in new technologies (web sites, intranets…) have reaped the awards: “for every euro spent, they generated 2 euros in operating margins”, according to McKinsey.

The study was presented by Eric Besson, the French Minister for Industry, Energy and Digital Economy (Ministre de l’Industrie et du numérique) and co-fnanced by Google, which has participated in similar studies in the UK.

You can read the original article here and get a free PDF of the report (in French) here.

Mideast turmoil, record gas (petrol) prices in France

Prices at the pump are at record levels in France, largely due to the rise in oil prices which in turn can be explained by the instability in the Middle East, especially in Libya, (when is it ever stable? I guess I should say exceptional instability). Of course it’s necessary to take into account the VAT (value-added-tax) at 19.6% (tax that goes to the French state). But there is also the TIPP (taxe intérieure sur les produits pétroliers), a tax on petrol-based products explained in detail here.

Right now the average price for unleaded 95 grade is 1.5067 euros per liter (according to report by BFM TV). You can watch the video here in French. This is the first time it’s surpassed 1.50, or about $7.92 per US gallon at today’s exchange rate. Some analysts even predict prices may continue to rise and surpass the 2 euro mark.

News sites like RTL are showing anger against these price hikes, blaming it on the State and the oil companies. You can follow energy prices here at Bloomberg.

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