PARIS (Reuters) – France is poised to win record foreign investment pledges when President Emmanuel Macron welcomes global business leaders, including Tesla boss Elon Musk, on Monday at the annual Choosing France summit in Versailles.
For the president, whose popularity has suffered from a widely unpopular proposal to raise France’s retirement age, the summit is an opportunity to justify his pro-business reform drive and shift attention to his promotion of a low-carbon industry, such as electric cars.
Executives attending the event in Versailles near Paris have so far pledged an investment of 13 billion euros ($14 billion), the most since Macron first held the summit in 2018.
Billionaire businessman Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla (TSLA.O), met Macron at his official residence at the Elysee Palace. Sitting across from Macron in one of the French president’s gilded offices, Musk, dressed in a black suit, joked that he had to “sleep in the car” in remarks caught on camera before their meeting.
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, during a lunch in Versailles later, will bid on Musk’s new tax breaks for investments in green technology announced by Macron last week, the finance ministry told Reuters.
France previously tried to persuade Musk to build a European superfactory in the country, but he chose Germany, his only European superfactory so far.
Asked by BFM TV about possible investments by Musk, Le Maire said only that “all investments that are being made today are the result of months or even years of negotiations.”
Tesla was not immediately available for comment.
For the past five years, Macron has invited top executives to the lavish Palace of Versailles to try to secure billions of dollars in foreign investment.
For the former investment banker, who cannot run again in elections due in 2027 after two terms but looks forward to his legacy, the summit provides an opportunity to move forward after months of protests and strikes against his plans to raise the retirement age by two years. up to 64.
It is also competing on the global green technology investment scene when the US became a magnet after the introduction of the Inflation Control Act.
Tesla’s factory near Berlin began delivering cars in March 2022 and now produces around 5,000 Model Y vehicles per week, with a maximum capacity of 500,000 vehicles per year.
But Tesla said that while it has begun assembling batteries in Germany, it will focus on cell production in the United States in light of the IRA incentives, making it one of the first companies to announce a shift in strategy prompted by the package.
To counter this, Macron said last week that France’s current cash incentives of up to 5,000 euros to buyers of new electric cars would be conditional on its producers meeting strict low-carbon standards, with cars made outside Europe excluded.
France is so far anticipating a total of 28 investment projects from companies ranging from US drug group Pfizer (PFE.N) to Swedish furniture maker IKEA and investment bank Morgan Stanley (MS.N). In total, the projects are expected to create 8,000 jobs.
The largest single investment is a €5.2 billion project from a Taiwanese car battery maker in the northern port city of Dunkirk, which Macron announced on Friday.
It is followed by a €1.5 billion battery components plant in Dunkirk, also in a joint venture between China’s XTC Group and France’s Orano.
Macron’s office said IKEA plans to invest 906 million euros by 2026, while Pfizer has set aside 500 million euros for expansion in France over the same period, followed by British rival GSK (GSK.L) with 400 million euros.
Morgan Stanley is expected to announce the creation of 200 new banking jobs in Paris.
($1 = 0.9084 euros)
(Reporting on Lee Thomas; Editing by Christina Fincher)
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