CEO Morning Brief

Microsoft, Amazon, Morgan Stanley, Pfizer to Announce French Projects

Publish date: Tue, 14 May 2024, 10:32 PM
TheEdge CEO Morning Brief

(May 13): Inc, Pfizer Inc, Microsoft Corp and Morgan Stanley are among the companies poised to boost their presence in France, with a flurry of new foreign investments to be unveiled on Monday.

President Emmanuel Macron will host 180 chief executive officers and executives at the Château de Versailles for the “Choose France” summit. The flagship event, now in its seventh year, is part of a push by Macron’s government to re-industrialise the country, simplify its regulations to attract foreign companies and make it a financial hub for the post-Brexit European Union (EU).

The 56 projects to be unveiled will amount to more than €15 billion (US$16.2 billion or RM76.73 billion) invested in total, topping last year’s €13 billion, the Elysee said on Sunday.

Amazon is set to spend €1.2 billion on projects that include reinforcing the e-commerce company’s logistics and increasing computing capacities, especially dedicated to artificial intelligence (AI), in its cloud division AWS, the Elysee said. The effort should yield about 3,000 additional jobs. In the pharma sector, Pfizer will reinvest €500 million in the country, while AstraZeneca spends about €365 million in the Dunkirk region, the Elysee added.

Microsoft plans to spend €4 billion building cloud and AI infrastructure in France, the company said in a statement. It aims to help train a million people and support 2,500 start-ups by 2027 in the country. Microsoft this year unveiled a partnership and €15 million investment into Mistral AI, a Parisian start-up competing with OpenAI.

Morgan Stanley is expanding its European campus in the French capital, featuring a global research hub, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Saturday. The US bank already increased its Paris headcount to about 400 staff from 150 since 2021. It will add 100 staffers across all its Paris divisions, including its research and development centre, which has 90 employees now and could grow to 120, according to a Morgan Stanley spokesperson.

First Abu Dhabi Bank and Nigeria’s Zenith Bank are also set to open offices in Paris, the minister added. Those operations will help French companies invest in the Gulf and in English-speaking Africa, and show that Paris is becoming a key location for worldwide players, according to Le Maire.

Other investments previewed by Le Maire include two factories to help make France a “decarbonised industry” leader. Swiss-based KL1 is set to invest €300 million in a nickel refining plant with 200 employees in Blanquefort, near Bordeaux. The metal is a key component of batteries for electric vehicles.

The German start-up Lilium will build a €400 million factory assembling vertical take-off electrical jets in the southwest of France, creating as many as 850 jobs, Le Maire said.

The European consortium FertigHy plans to invest €1.3 billion in a plant in the north of France by 2030 to produce low-carbon nitrogen fertilisers, Industry Minister Roland Lescure said in an interview with La Tribune on Sunday. Belgian chemicals group Solvay is expected to launch a rare earths production unit at its La Rochelle site for a €100 million cost, he added.

More projects are expected to be announced on Monday. About €3 billion of tech and AI related projects are set to be unveiled, les Echos reported on May 9, with new data centres to be built by KDDI and Equinix.

France is often criticised for its tight labour laws, regulation, and political pressure on companies, and is working on a new plan to bolster the attractiveness of Paris as a European financial centre. Those moves have spurred additional firms from Asia, the Middle East, Canada and Australia to contemplate moving business to Paris.

Paris in recent years has grown as a financial centre, attracting banks and hedge funds that sought a foothold in the EU following Brexit. The UK’s 2016 vote to leave the EU forced Wall Street’s biggest banks to adjust operations to ensure they were trading European assets — from government bonds to interest rate products to equities — within the 27 countries that remain in the bloc.

Le Maire will host a lunch on Monday with top bankers, with guests to include JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, KKR co-founder Henry Kravis, Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon, and Bank of America head Brian Moynihan.

Source: TheEdge - 14 May 2024

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