The inability of the French economy to rebound from the Euro zone crisis, the loss of corporate champions like Alstom and Arcelor and the forceful rise of the far right party (Front National) at the latest European elections [fr] are seen by many observers as tell-tale signs of the country’s relative decline. Yet Nicolas Véron at the economic Think Tank Bruegel argues that while France may have many issues to resolve, “an extinction of corporate champions is not one of them” :
The bid from GE, a leading US-headquartered conglomerate, over the power division of Alstom, a maker of turbines and trains, has prompted much soul-searching in France. [..] The description of mass corporate exodus fits a narrative of national decay. France’s exports are slumping. Except that on the specific issue of corporate champions, the story is not backed by the facts. Compared with the rest of the world and of Europe, France is not losing ground as headquarters location of major companies – if anything, the opposite is true [..] Strikingly, in less than two decades France has gained considerable ground in comparison with the two traditionally headquarters-rich EU countries, the UK and Netherlands, and even with Switzerland..