Macron Is Making a Push to Direct France’s Big Money Toward Tech

Helene Fouquet

(Bloomberg) -- Emmanuel Macron is courting France’s big institutional investors in a bid to make the country more attractive to tech money -- and see Paris become the seat of a European Nasdaq index.

In Paris on Tuesday, the French president is set to announce a multi-billion euro pledge by banks and insurers, including Axa SA, Natixis SA, Aviva Plc and Allianz SE, to invest in France’s tech companies, his office told reporters. The French daily, La Lettre A, said the commitment may amount to 5 billion euros ($5.5 billion) over three years, a report his office declined to confirm.

It’s part of a broader push by Macron’s government to attract more investment for innovation. Other measures include eased regulations and tax cuts. His long-term goal is the creation of a European version of the tech-heavy Nasdaq index, if possible based in Paris, his office said.

There’s still a long way to go for that to happen. In the first half of this year, France’s four growth equity operations raised 580 million euros, Data compiled by EY show. That compares with five operations in Germany reaching 1.13 billion euros in the same period and seven operations in the U.K. that amounted to 2.39 billion euros.

Apart from attracting more growth equity funds, to see such an index in Paris, Macron has to create smoother exit options, a tech-friendly stock exchange and harmonized Europe-wide regulations.

Investors have pledged to either inject more money in existing venture capital funds such as Idinvest and Partech, in a ‘fund of funds’ created by state-backed investor BpiFrance, or to create their own fund, an official in Macron’s office said, declining to be named in accordance with Elysee Palace rules.

Innovation companies raised about 2.79 billion euros in the first half this year in France, compared to 1.95 billion euros over 2018, according to the EY data. France is catching up to the U.K., the region’s leader, which had 5.3 billion euros of venture capital and growth equity in the period.

French and foreign investors and company leaders will mix Tuesday evening as Macron hosts one of his trademark tech diners. Companies invited include Founders Fund, Accel and Lightspeed Venture Partners, and also sovereign funds for Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Qatar, Kuwait and South Korea.

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