PARIS – France is not embarking on a wave of privatisations, Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici said on Monday, adding the state was simply looking to re-balance its 62-billion-euro portfolio to help spur growth and jobs.
Prime Minister Jean-Paul Ayrault reaffirmed on Sunday that the state would reduce holdings in certain businesses in which it holds a large stake in order to finance new investments and not to "plug gaps" in the budget.
"This is not a return to privatisations," Moscovici told iTele.
"This is a fine-tuning of state capital to maintain a strategic state role, to allow for better investment in the future of the country, to relaunch the economy and growth and to address (President) Francois Hollande's objective of reversing the unemployment trend by the end of the year," he said.
"It could be a reduction in the level of stakeholdings, it could be selling a certain part ... but above all it is keeping a strategic state, a state that invests without making public finances worse," he said, adding that any funds raised would be reinvested in new growth sectors.
Most recently in March, France sold a 3.12 percent stake in aerospace group Safran to institutional investors, reaping nearly half a billion euros from the sale.
The French state also holds 84 percent in utility EDF , 37 percent in GDF Suez , 27 percent in Thales and 55 percent in Aeroports de Paris .
(Reporting By Alexandria Sage)