PARIS: Billionaire businessman Elon Musk on Monday said he was considering “significant investments in France” as he visited the country for a summit aimed at attracting foreign business leaders. The world’s second richest man, who is the chief executive of electric car firm Tesla, social media company Twitter and cosmic exploration outfit SpaceX, made the comments after meeting President Emmanuel Macron and Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire.
“I’m very impressed with President Macron and the French government and how welcoming they are to industry,” the 51-year-old South African said. “I’m confident that in the future Tesla will be making significant investments in France.” Le Maire said France would “continue discussions” with the businessman, but refused to share any further details. Macron and Musk earlier met at the Elysee Palace before heading to Versailles for the latest edition of the president’s Choose France conference where Macron seeks to drum up investment in the country. “We talked about the attractiveness of France and the significant progress in the electric vehicle and energy sectors,” Macron wrote on Twitter afterwards.
“We have so much to do together,” he added. Musk smiled and waved at reporters as the meeting got under way but made no comment. Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told the BFMTV broadcaster that “negotiations are ongoing” with the magnate. Le Maire gave no details of Monday’s talks with Musk, saying simply that “all of today’s investments are the fruit of months or even years of negotiations”.
Macron said in another tweet that some 13 billion euros of investment would be announced at the summit, equating to the creation of some 8,000 jobs. “When a foreign investor chooses France, it’s good for jobs and for our regions,” he said. Some 200 foreign business bosses are expected at the summit, including Sunil Bharti Mittal of Indian conglomerate Bharti Entreprises, ArcelorMittal chief Lakhsmi Mittal and Nokia chief executive Pekka Lundmark.
The meeting is being hosted at the Palace of Versailles, the former residence of France’s monarchs, around which a tight security perimeter has been erected. Macron remains the target of angry protests after signing into law his controversial pension reform last month, leading to new accusations from the opposition he was only a president for the rich. Already confirmed last week was the investment of over five billion euros by Taiwanese battery maker ProLogium in building a new factory in northern France for its first European plant. Among other projects, the Swedish furniture giant Ikea is announcing over 900 million euros of investment in France by 2026, including the creation of a logistics centre near Toulouse.
In pharmaceuticals, Pfizer is injecting an additional 500 million euros and Britain’s GSK nearly 400 million in France During a US trip in December, Macron held an unannounced face-to-face meeting with Musk, saying later the two had had a “clear and honest” discussion during an hour-long meeting, including on electric cars and batteries. He had also conveyed to Musk his—and Europe’s—concerns about content moderation on Twitter since Musk bought the influential platform. Macron confirmed the pair “also talked about digital regulation” in their Paris meeting. –AFP