On Wednesday 22 May, the Invest in France Agency (IFA) held the first ever meeting of France’s “Russian Investors Club” in the presence of the official representatives of the two countries: Alexander Orlov, Ambassador of the Russian Federation to France, Fleur Pellerin, Minister for Small and Medium Enterprises, Innovation and the Digital Economy, former minister Jean-Pierre Chevènement, the Foreign Ministry’s Special Representative for Russia, and Serge Boscher, Managing Director of the IFA.
This inaugural Club meeting assembled some forty participants for more than two hours around lunch at the Raphael Hotel. Among them were representatives of around twenty companies already present in France or currently seeking solutions to set up operations in the country, including Dr. Web Ltd, Uralvagonzavod, RZhD, Transaero Airlines and ICC Group.
Like the other national clubs the IFA and its partners organize and run each year for the business communities of Brazil, China, Korea, India and Japan, the Russian Investors Club is primarily geared towards opening constructive dialogue with the Russian business community and supporting their development in our country.
Indeed, although Russian investment really began to make its mark in 2012, with the number of companies deciding to set up operations in France doubling compared to 2011, it is clear that the number of Russian companies present in France – around thirty – remains below the country’s potential. “Russian investment in France will depend on conditions being favorable,” declared Alexander Orlov, Ambassador of Russia to France. The initiative’s underlying challenge is therefore to acknowledge and understand the obstacles encountered by Russian companies.
The discussions that took place during the lunch meeting revolved around two main themes: innovation in France and the launch of a new Franco/Russian fund, stemming from the collaboration between Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations and Vnesheconombank, to support cross-investment. Ms. Pellerin presented the government’s innovation policy and the economic reforms implemented in this sector. Her remarks were backed up by Mr. Sharov, President of Dr. Web Ltd, who spoke of his company’s successful expansion into France. The second theme was broached by Laurent Vigier, Head of European and International Affairs at Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations, and his opposite number at the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), Ms. Anne Pandey, Head of Investment.
These presentations were punctuated by discussions with the various participants. The topics covered included not only the successes achieved and the support many have received, but also the difficulties the Russian business community often faces, not least when it comes to obtaining loans and advice. On behalf of the government, Ms. Pellerin committed to addressing these issues and putting forward solutions over the coming weeks. “The Club will serve as a platform from which entrepreneurs will be able to request support,” she pointed out. The “Russian Investors Club” will therefore contribute to exchanges of information between the government and the business world, thus improving working conditions within companies.
A number of avenues are currently being explored. Ms. Pellerin was also invited by Ambassador Orlov to visit the Russian equivalent of France’s competitive clusters, so as to assess the opportunities for collaboration that exist. The minister could conduct this visit accompanied by a delegation of Presidents of French competitive clusters. She also committed to speeding up the launch of the new Franco/Russian fund. For his part, Ambassador Orlov underlined the positive impact of the exercise, stating that it should be pursued and extended to two such events per year.
The IFA hopes the Club’s launch will be the keystone of the dialogue it is keen to maintain with the Russian business community in France. All relationships are founded on trust and this is a value held dear by Russian citizens. The investors club is a great symbol of our commitment and we hope it will be perceived as such.
To consult the press release (in french)
- copyright : JL Bulcao