France Protests Amazon Uk Ban On Foie Gras
Could France see the return of Nicolas Sarkozy?
(Photo: Jack Guez, AFP/Getty Images) Tags Italy SHARE 23 CONNECT 58 TWEET 1 COMMENTEMAILMORE Could a merger between Air France-KLM and Alitalia be on the horizon? It sounds as though it’s at least a possibility, according to several reports out Tuesday (Oct. 1) . That comes as Alitalia which has history that is perhaps best known for a seemingly endless cycle of financial emergencies enters a new round of turbulence that has it looking for ways to raise cash. Alitalia’s deteriorating balance sheets have prompted speculation that partner Air France-KLM which already has a 25% stake in the carrier could come to the rescue. RELATED: A familiar place: Alitalia back to the financial brink As for the reports raising the possibility of a merger, one is one from Reuters . The news agency writes “Air France-KLM said on Tuesday it was open to merging with Alitalia in a move seen as the best solution for turning around the loss-making Italian airline.” Dow Jones Newswires ran a similar report , noting one key Alitalia shareholder views Air France-KLM “as a good candidate to take control of the carrier, (though) he said the ultimate decision lay with the (Italian) government.” “(Air France-KLM) is a good buyer,” Gilberto Benetton is quoted by Dow Jones as saying to reporters at the Milan exchange. However, Benetton says the Italian government would have to have a say and that Air France-KLM would have to detail what it would do with Alitalia in a merger. “If the government doesn’t sit at the table with Air France-KLM … the danger is that Italy as a country becomes a region,” he’s quoted as saying be Dow Jones . “This must be avoided at all costs.” Dow Jones writes Benetton’s family, whose holdings include the eponymous retail chain, is “among a group of Italian financiers and industrialists that came to the rescue of Alitalia five years ago to stop the airline from being bought by Air France-KLM, which nevertheless owns a 25% stake.” However, Air France-KLM CEO Alexandre de Juniac indicates any move his company may make regarding Alitalia will be deliberate. “Our conditions for helping Alitalia are very strict. If the conditions are met, I am ready to go ahead,” Air France-KLM chief executive de Juniac is quoted by Reuters as saying to the French newspaper Les Echos. He did not specify what those conditions might be.
A deep restructuring plan with big job cuts is rescuing French airline Air France, and the whole Air France-KLM group will become profitable by the end of the year, the group said on Monday. Caption PARIS: A deep restructuring plan with big job cuts is rescuing French airline Air France, and the whole Air France-KLM group will become profitable by the end of the year, the group said on Monday. Air France “is in the process of being saved,” the head of the whole group Alexandre de Juniac told Europe 1 radio. “Air France-KLM should make money from 2013 and Air France should do so in 2014, which means that we will have the means for development, to open new routes,” notably in Africa, Asia and Latin America, he said. Until now, the company had said only that Air France-KLM was being turned around from financial crisis. It had suggested in the six-month results that the group might be profitable by the end of the year. In September, the number of passengers carried by the entire group rose by 0.7 per cent but freight traffic again fell sharply, by 4.1 per cent. The Air France component, which celebrates its 80th anniversary on Monday but has been in difficulties since 2009, appears to be climbing towards brighter skies, having put in place a deep restructuring programme. De Juniac said: “Air France is in the process of being saved but we have to do what we have said we will do. “The staff are involved in an enormous plan. We have asked them to make a considerable effort. They have increased their working hours, they have increased their time in the air, they have changed their work methods.” In January 2012, the group launched a programme called “Transform 2015”, to enable it to return to profit by 2015 and to put itself on a new, sound footing. Under the plan, 1,826 people were to leave voluntarily, and in a second wave announced on Friday another 2,800 jobs will be shed. The head of the Air France part of the group, Frederic Gagey, had said that the action was needed because Air France would not otherwise achieve its targets for ending losses in 2013 and would end up reporting an operating loss for the sixth year in a row.
Air France is being “saved”, heads for profits
(Read More: Moscovici to France’s businesses: stop French-bashing ) Furthermore, Sarkozy’s path to a political return could be scuppered by divisions within his own party. A bitter UMP leadership election last November was left unresolved after Francois Fillon and Jean-Francois Cope both claimed victory. While Cope was eventually declared the winner, both sides alleged fraud and new elections were slated for this year. They are yet to materialize. With Fillon and Cope still battling it out, would a Sarkozy return cause more divisions or could he be a unifier? Fillon, who was prime minister under Sarkozy and once a staunch ally, told the JDD weekly paper this week, “I cannot take on all the consequences of a presidential candidacy and not be in conflict with Nicolas Sarkozy, given his state of mind. De facto, we are in competition.” Philippe Waechter, chief economist at Natixis Asset Management, said Sarkozy would do best to bide his time before making a comeback. “He will be impatient to be the leader of the UMP, but if he does that too rapidly there is a risk that French citizens reject him. For me, the best strategy would be to come back in politics in 2016 as the man who could unify his party,” Waechter said. He added that while Sarkozy was popular within the UMP, he was less so outside: an Ifop survey in July revealed that 70 percent of the population believed Sarkozy would run for president in 2017, but only 40 percent actually wanted him to do so. As Nicholas Spiro, managing director of Spiro Sovereign Strategy, told CNBC, “He is a deeply, deeply polarizing figure in France.” Spiro took a similar line to Waechter, saying that it was too early for Sarkozy to bid for the UMP party leadership, and that with the party facing an insurgency from the French far-right, he would not want to divide the party further by interfering. Spiro added: “Being the leader of a major political party in the current economic environment is a poisoned chalice. Will Sarkozy now represent a headache for the unpopular Hollande administration?
France on Monday criticised a decision by Amazon to ban the sale of foie gras on its British website, following an animal rights campaign accusing producers of the delicacy of “very un-British” cruelty. Caption PARIS: France on Monday criticised a decision by Amazon to ban the sale of foie gras on its British website, following an animal rights campaign accusing producers of the delicacy of “very un-British” cruelty. Activists have for years campaigned against the sale of foie gras, saying the practice of force-feeding ducks or geese in order to make the French gourmet item is cruel and amounts to torture. “I regret Amazon’s decision,” Guillaume Garot, France’s minister for agribusiness, told AFP. “I once again want to point out the efforts made by French producers over the years to maintain real product quality while respecting the animal’s well-being,” he said. The site Amazon.co.uk, which on Monday added “foie gras” to a list of prohibited animal products including “whale, dolphin and shark parts”, would not comment on the reasons behind the ban. But animal rights campaign group Viva! said the move followed pressure by the organisation, which earlier this year presented the US online retailer with “evidence of the abject suffering” caused by foie gras production. A petition against the sale of the delicacy was also signed by more than 10,000 Amazon customers and Viva! supporters. Foie gras – which literally means fatty liver – is hugely popular in France, where it is eaten at Christmas and on other special occasions, but ongoing controversy over production of the delicacy has given it a bad name in other parts of the world. The sale of foie gras has been outlawed in California, while Britain’s House of Lords has taken it off the menu. Garot said he was nevertheless “very confident” about the future of the foie gras industry, which employs nearly 100,000 people directly and indirectly in France. “I defend this sector because of jobs but also because of a certain idea of gastronomic heritage,” Garot added. The minister is due shortly to travel to South Korea for a visit partly aimed at promoting foie gras sales in the hope of repeating the kind of boom in sales the product has recently enjoyed in Japan.