French aerospace crisis plan could total 10 billion euros: Les Echos

PARIS (Reuters) - A French emergency plan for the aerospace industry to be unveiled this week could be worth up to 10 billion euros ($11.3 billion), including an expected 1 billion euro investment fund, business newspaper Les Echos reported on Sunday.

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The plan, aimed at helping the sector recover from the fallout of the novel coronavirus pandemic that has slashed air travel, will comprise various measures including loan guarantees and support for research and development, Les Echos said.

France’s economy ministry declined to comment.

The country’s transport minister said earlier on Sunday that France was seeking to create a 1 billion euro fund as part of the crisis package.

That was in line with the amount cited last week by sources familiar with the proposals, who told Reuters that government and industry officials were negotiating a privately led investment fund to help small aerospace suppliers.

“For one of the funds, that is more or less the target,” the minister, Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, told the news channel LCI when asked if 1 billion euros was an amount being envisaged.

He did not specify what that fund would cover or how much other funds might be worth, adding that the aerospace initiative would be presented this week.

Les Echos, like other French media, said the plan was due to be unveiled on Tuesday.

Djebbari said the plan would notably seek to protect aerospace firms from foreign takeovers, citing interest from Chinese firms that “are making offers at a time when they (French firms) are in difficulty”.

As with multibillion-euro support already unveiled for the car industry, France would seek job guarantees, Djebbari said.

As part of the plan, Defence Minister Florence Parly had discussed with President Emmanuel Macron the possibility of bringing forward certain military orders, he said.

Reporting by Gus Trompiz; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Peter Cooney