Ancienne journaliste à l'Usine Nouvelle, au Monde, et à la Tribune. Plusieurs livres: Vivendi: une affaire française; Ces messieurs de chez Lazard, Rothschild, une banque au pouvoir. Participation aux ouvrages collectifs : l'histoire secrète de la V République, l'histoire secrète du patronat , Les jours heureux, informer n'est pas un délit.View his profile in the club
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After the Charlie Hebdo shootings in January this year President François Hollande's key focus was on pulling the nation together. Now, after the terror attacks that struck Paris on Friday November 13th, the French head of state has espoused the language of war to justify more air strikes by French jets in Syria and Iraq, stronger internal security measures, more police officers and, most notably, a change to the French constitution. In a rare address to French MPs and senators Hollande said on Monday: “France is at war.” As Lénaïg Bredoux and Martine Orange report, the mood in the French presidency is for tough talk and tough measures to combat jihadists – and also to stop the French Right from seizing the political initiative.
In just two years, Franco-Israeli businessman Patrick Drahi has turned a pedestrian French cable operation into a global telecoms empire, spending more than 40 billion euros on acquisitions, including France’s second-largest mobile operator, SFR. But behind the breathtaking sequence of deals, he has ratcheted up debt, riding on the wave of cheap money that followed the 2008 financial crisis, and now even ratings agency Moody's appears concerned. Martine Orange reports.
The French utilities group EDF is now officially the sole company overseeing France's nuclear industry. This follows an agreement in principle signed earlier this week between EDF and the ailing French nuclear firm Areva which will create a joint company in charge of designing and building new nuclear reactors. France's economy minister Emmanuel Macron has sought to draw a line under the French nuclear industry's recent financial fiasco, preferring to speak instead of a “new adventure” for the sector. Mediapart's Martine Orange analyses the deal.
The United States is conducting widespread economic and industrial espionage against France, including eavesdropping on at least two economy ministers, Mediapart can reveal, as part of its investigation carried out with Libération and WikiLeaks. The ministers concerned were François Baroin, who served under President Nicolas Sarkozy, and his socialist successor Pierre Moscovici, who is now a European Commissioner. But the top secret documents also show that the US National Security Agency has routinely spied not just on politicians and government officials but also French businesses seeking to win contracts abroad. The aim seems to have been to undermine the effectiveness and competitiveness of French companies competing for business on the world market. Fabrice Arfi, Lénaïg Bredoux, Martine Orange, Jérôme Hourdeaux and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange report on the latest disclosures.
Lancement d'Ariane 5 © Arianespace
Control of Arianespace, the pan-European company that provides commercial launch services for spacecraft, is to be handed over to a joint venture between Airbus Group and French aero-engine maker Safran. The privatisation, via a transfer of majority shares in the company held until now by the French national space studies agency, the CNES, is expected to be formally detailed at the Paris Air Show which opens on Monday. The move has accentuated mounting tensions between staff and management of the company, amid fears of job cuts and the end of a 35-year collective public adventure that spearheaded the European space industry. Martine Orange reports on the deep malaise surrounding a controversial privatisation to be underwritten by taxpayers.
Jérôme Kerviel, en avril 2012 © Reuters
In January 2008, French bank Société Générale announced it had lost 4.9 billion euros through the reckless actions of one of its traders, Jérôme Kerviel, claiming it had been unaware of his actions. Kerviel, who maintained from the start that his hierarchy knew what he was doing, received a jail sentence for forgery, fraud and hacking, and was ordered to pay the bank, in damages, the huge sum it lost. But last month, Mediapart can reveal, the former head of the French police’s financial crime squad, who led its investigation of the events and who was once convinced of the bank’s claims that Kerviel acted on his own, has given a statement to a French judge in which she details why she later became convinced, during her second investigation into the affair in 2012, the trader's bosses knew of his actions. Commander Nathalie Le Roy said she now feels she had been “used” by the bank in the 2008 investigation, how it later held back key evidence she requested, of witness accounts that Kerviel’s superiors were already made aware in 2007 of his extravagant trades, of allegations that Société Générale staff were made to sign gagging agreements and revealed that its claimed losses have never been independently verified. Martine Orange reports on a dramatic turnaround in the affair which appears bound to reopen the case.
The giant French nuclear group Areva, whose core business is making nuclear reactors, has just announced staggering losses of 4.8 billion euros in 2014. That comes on top of nearly 3 billion euros of losses racked up in preceding years. In a bid to resolve this disastrous situation the state-owned company is now drawing up a restructuring plan that could lead to thousands of job losses. However, the group's woes cannot simply be blamed on recent events such as the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan or a cyclical downturn. Instead the group's terrible financial position has been building for many years thanks to industrial squabbles, bad management decisions and poor strategy. But as ever, says Mediapart's Martine Orange, it looks as if it will be the workforce who will pay the price of the group's failings rather than France's industrial, civil service and political elites despite their responsibility for this industrial fiasco.
Europe’s largest bedding company, the French group Cauval, has recently been hit by a campaign of rumours that it is in imminent danger of bankruptcy. As a result, the company, whose products are sold under the trademarks of Dunlopillo, Simmons and Treca, has come under strong financial pressure from wary suppliers and its retail store clients. The rumours began in earnest after a major French retail chain, But, ordered its franchise stores to remove Cauval products from their 2015 catalogue. While the rumours gained ground, one of But’s principle shareholders, a London-based equity firm, expressed its ‘potential’ interest in buying up Cauval. Martine Orange reports on a disturbing tale that now threatens 3,000 jobs.
French economy minister Emmanuel Macron on Monday introduced before parliament his bill of law for ‘growth and action’, a wide-ranging set of measures that include loosening Sunday trading rules, cutting red tape on construction activity and opening up closed professions like that of solicitors. Amendments to the bill, which is on a fast-track passage through parliament this week, have seen its original 106 articles rise to more than 200. Among them is a measure adopted in stealth and which aims to guarantee secrecy in business activity by making the revelation of confidential corporate information a crime. Mediapart economics correspondent Martine Orange argues here why the text of this amendment is so vague and potentially large in interpretation that it poses a serious danger for freedom of information, and for the press and whistleblowers in particular.
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