* Britain, Germany retain top spots for foreign investment
* France sees decline in foreign investment halted
PARIS May 27 Britain and Germany topped an
annual ranking of foreign investment projects in Europe while
France lagged behind though its numbers were on rise, a study
showed on Tuesday.
Retaining its top position, Britain saw the number of
foreign investment projects in the country rise by 15 percent
last year to 799, according to Ernst and Young.
Meanwhile, Germany, Europe's biggest economy and industrial
powerhouse, saw an increase of 12 percent to 701 foreign
France appeared to have halted some of its decline in recent
years although the number of foreign investments grew more
slowly than in Britain or Germany.
With a nine percent increase last year in investments to 514
projects, Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg seized on the study
as a sign of the government's success in reviving French firms'
competitiveness and improving the country's attractiveness.
In a move to improve competitiveness further, President
Francois Hollande aims to phase out 30 billion euros ($41
billion) in payroll tax companies pay over the next three years
in exchange for commitments to create jobs.
Ernst and Young said that the total number of foreign
investments in Europe rose five percent to a record 3,955
projects, creating 166,300 jobs which was down from pre-crisis
levels of close to 200,000.
While intra-European investment accounted for 54 percent of
foreign investment, the United States was the single biggest
foreign investor followed by Germany and Britain.
In one of the latest examples of U.S. investment in Europe,
U.S. conglomerate General Electric is seeking to buy the
energy assets of French group Alstom, once an icon of
However, it faces resistance from the French government,
which prefers a European tie-up between Alstom and German rival
Siemens and which has widened its control of foreign
takeovers with a decree giving it powers to veto deals.
($1 = 0.7325 Euros)
(Reporting by Leigh Thomas Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)