Rise and fall of THE French state as a shareholder

The very notion of the “State as a Shareholder” is full of contradictions.


The State as a Shareholder wants everything and its opposite at the same time:


  • its patrimonial and political dimension
  • public service duties and market economy
  • priority to profitability and concern for regional planning
  • desire for reform but also social stability
  • openness to competition but also priority for national champions
  • appetite for dividends but also price regulation
  • short-term urgency and long-term strategic vision
  • ever-greater quality with ever-fewer resources

These contradictory desiderata explain why France’s performance is so uneven: its achievements correspond primarily to the sectors in which the State as a Shareholder is involved.


AMONG THE ACHIEVEMENTS of the French State as a Shareholder:


  • success in a rapidly expanding sector amidst geopolitical tensions (AIRBUS, MBDA, NAVAL GROUP, NEXTER, SAFRAN and THALES) 
  • discreet but very effective pragmatism (in the case of RAFALE aircraft)
  • radical business model transformation (LA POSTE)

AMONG THE FAILURES of the French State as a Shareholder:


  • financial deterioration of EDF and its aging nuclear power plants
  • the railway networks are running out of steam