French leader promotes foreign investment at Versailles

PARIS (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron hosted 150 international business leaders at the Palace of Versailles on Monday in hopes of producing support for his agenda as yellow vest protesters keep up their demonstrations to his government’s economic policies.

The CEOs or top executives of Microsoft, Uber, General Electric, Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola and IBM were among those attending at the evening event, where Macron wants to promote tax changes and other measures intended to attract foreign investors.

The foreign executives arranged to stop in France while en route to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Several companies used the Versailles event on Monday to announce planned investments in France worth a total of EUR600 million (USD682 million), Macron’s office said.

Chinese group Microport, which specialises in medical devices, plans to put EUR350 million (USD398 million) over the next five years toward developing pacemakers and defibrillators in France.

United States (US) food manufacturer Mars said it would invest EUR120 million (USD136 million) on work at eight locations in France.

Microsoft and IBM announced the development of centres focussing on artificial intelligence.

American technology group Cisco has a EUR60 million plan (USD68 million) to further develop its Paris innovation and research lab by 2022.

State statistics agency Insee last month lowered its 2018 growth estimate for France to 1.5 per cent, down from 2.2 per cent in 2017.

CEO of the US multinational technology and social media company Snap Inc Evan Spiegel (L) reads a document with French President Emmanuel Macron. – AP