Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The policy of the State shareholder étrillée by the Court of auditors – The Parisian

LState manages correctly its portfolio shareholder? Not really, according to the Court of auditors, which calls for in-depth reform of the shareholding public to put an end to its “deficiencies persistent”, in the interest of the taxpayers and the companies involved.
“The State just to be a good shareholder,” believes the high court financial in a voluminous report made public Wednesday. In question, according to the judges at the financial level, the “contradictions between the multiple objectives” pursued by governments in the management of the public portfolio.
This situation pushes the State to make “move to the second plan the defence of its patrimonial interests” and “the social interest in the businesses he owns”, say the report’s authors, who insist on the complexity of the task allotted to the State, at the head of a portfolio as “large” as”heterogeneous”.
EDF, Engie, Renault, Air France or RATP : some 1,800 companies, in France, are held as minority or majority by the State, through the EPA (Agency of the interests of the State), the Caisse des dépôts et consignation (CDC) or their joint subsidiary Bpifrance.
The carrying value of this heritage, which is also large and diverse, was of 100 billion euros at the end of 2015. Within this portfolio, a total of 62 entries were listed, the image of Air France or PSA, for a total value 77.4-billion euros.
This weight shareholder, one of the highest in OECD countries, is a source of problematic situations, says the report, which considers the public portfolio “dispersed and very mobile” ; and the operations carried out under the leadership of the State “too often dictated by the emergency.”
“The reflexes in the former continue to exist, and the State often continues to confuse guardianship and ownership,” says the president of the Court of auditors, Didier Migaud. “To enforce a social peace which it is the guarantor and the dependent, it is not uncommon for the State to sacrifice the autonomy of its management of the business”, he adds.
A statement close to the one established by the former director of the EPA, David Azema, in a note published on Tuesday by the institute Montaigne. “Over the long term, these tensions may not only affect the development of the companies concerned and their relative position in the global competition”, he warned.
- “chronic Weaknesses” -
Publication of guidelines, clarification of reasons for intervention: several measures have been taken in recent years to i mprove the governance of the shareholding public. But despite “good progress”, the “chronic weaknesses remain”, according to the Court of accounts.
the Main point, according to her, the lack of rationality of the State: the order of locomotives imposed in October to the station in order to save the factory Alsthom of Belfort, but also the steering of the nuclear industry, which has been shaken by the financial position of Areva and EDF.
The government, in early 2016, is committed to injecting seven billion euros in the two groups. But this order has arrived “late”, according to the Court, and will be potentially costly for public finances, less of a “strong amplification of the divestiture program”.
A complicated operation, in view of the results the stock recorded in recent times not the government-owned enterprises: between 2006 and 2016, the quoted portfolio of the State has thus lost 54% of its value, due to the difficu lties traversed by the energy sector.
to try To get out of this impasse, the Court makes a number of proposals, such as the removal of minimum thresholds of detention when they are not justified, and the change in the status of some public institutions, such as the SNCF, who would win according to the Court to become a “société anonyme” to gain autonomy.
The magistrates financial offer finally of “right-sizing” the portfolio of public shares, lowering the level of the rate of participation in certain businesses to retain only the minimum level, so that the State retains its influence, or through privatization.
This second option, namely, to reduce the wing’s public portfolio, “is a more marked”, concedes the Court. Defending, however, the legitimacy of such an approach, the state ownership is not “the proper means to counter the loss of competitiveness and de-industrialisation”.


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