L'Ombre de l'Olivier

The Shadow of the Olive Tree

being the maunderings of an Englishman on the Côte d'Azur

06 March 2007 Blog Home : March 2007 : Permalink

Airbus and French Politics

I almost feel sorry for Sarko being assaulted by the press after meeting the Airbus unions yesterday. In fact the whole Airbus gradual meltdown has to be a nightmare for him because it allows the more economically clueless presidential candidates (e.g. one with initials S R) to make reckless promises to "fix" things in ways that simply can't be done. As Ruters says:

The rightist government has said politicians should let management sort out the problems, but is anxious to prevent the crisis playing into the hands of their opponents, including Royal and centrist leader Francois Bayrou.

 Metro (the place where I go the photo from) also has a nice summary of the official positions of the three leading presidential candidates. I present them here in both French and English

Segolene Royal
La candidate socialiste a demandé lundi à l’Etat d’augmenter sa participation au capital d’EADS-Airbus et “de prendre les dispositions pour autoriser les Régions à entrer” dans l’actionnariat. Elle demande aussi à l’Etat qu’il apporte “des aides à la recherche-développement” pour faire face à la concurrence, et qu’il “mette en place un plan de soutien à la sous-traitance”.
The socialist candidate asked for Monday the State to increase its share in the ownership of EADS-Airbus and “to make the provisions to authorize the (French) Reions to enter” the shareholding. She also asks the State that it provide “assistance for the research and development” to face competition, and that it “sets up a plan of support for subcontracting”.
Nicolas Sarkozy
Le candidat UMP s’est déclaré favorable lundi à un pacte d’actionnaires pour Airbus où l’Etat serait mieux représenté. “Si j’étais président et qu’Airbus avait besoin d’une augmentation de capital, je serais prêt à le faire car c’est un enjeu industriel important”, a déclaré Nicolas Sarkozy, rappelant qu’il avait racheté 20% d’Alstom lorsqu’il était ministre de l’Economie et des Finances.
The UMP candidate declared Monday that he favoued a pact of shareholders for Airbus where the State would be represented better. “If I were a president and that Airbus needed a new issue of capital, I would be ready to do it because it is an important industrial stake”, declared Nicolas Sarkozy, recalling that it had repurchased 20% of Alstom when he was a Minister for the Economy and Finances.
Francois Bayrou
Le candidat UDF a souhaité lundi que les actionnaires privés de la maison mère d’Airbus assument leurs responsabilités aux côtés de l’Etat, et il s’est prononcé pour un nouveau pacte d’actionnaires. “L’Etat, comme l’Etat américain l’a fait pour Boeing, doit être capable de soutenir une entreprise aussi formidable qu’Airbus quand elle traverse une mauvaise passe”,
a-t-il réaffirmé.
The UDF candidate wished Monday that the private shareholders of the mother company of Airbus (i.e. EADS) assume their responsibilities to work with the government, and he called for a new pact of shareholders. “The government, just as the American government did for Boeing, must be able to support a company as formidable as Airbus when it hits a bad patch”, he reaffirmed.

So we have nationalization as the prefered solution on all sides because we can't let such a wonderful comapny as Airbus reap the consequences after it has made a bad commercial decision. Astoundingly Bayrou, who has typically been the smarter campaigner, is the one to make the gratuitous America reference. I would need to spend more time doing resaech than I can be bothered to do now to verify my gut feeling that Boeing has had far less "state aid" than Airbus over any time period you care to mention. Sego's proposals are not only implausbile because French regions, as Reuters reports, don't have money to invest in companies even if they had the legal right to do so but also because the EU would be very very upset and start fining France and its regios for illegal state aid if they did so.

Oh and the French Airbus workers are on strike today despite the fact that doing so is bound to hurt the company even more:

With an Airbus plane rolling off assembly lines on average every 9 working hours, production would be badly hit in both countries if French workers held a prolonged strike, since French factories produce many parts needed for the whole group.

(yes all this is much as predicted last week)

I despise l'Escroc and Vile Pin