00:15 GMT31 October 2020
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    The leader of the French right-wing party National Rally has taken aim at a US private investment company that is trying to buy a controlling stake in a Toulouse-based aeronautics enterprise.

    Marine Le Pen has branded Searchlight Capital, a New York-based private equity firm, a “foreign predator”, having accused it of acting like the mafia for its takeover bid of Latécoère, a French aeronautics company. The latter has been a number one partner to such aircraft manufacturers as Airbus, Boeing, and Dassault, among others.

    “This is what happens when a country no longer defends its interests: its strategic enterprises are at the mercy of foreign predators and mafia methods of investment funds. The passivity of the state is akin to complicity!” she tweeted.

    According to the radio station France Bleu, Searchlight Capital is the largest shareholder in the French business, with a 26 percent stake in the group it acquired for $106.8 million in April. Now, the US investment firm is reportedly offering €3.85 per share for the remainder in its €365 million takeover bid.

    The move has, however, raised concerns of the unions, which worry that the takeover by a private equity company would result in job losses, just like it did in 2015 after a similar episode in Latécoère.

    "We were bought by Anglo-American funds Apollo and Monarch at the end of 2015 and just six months later, Latécoère underwent the first redundancy plan in recent history which resulted in the removal of 200 jobs in France", Florent Coste, the trade union secretary of the General Confederation of Labour at Latécoère, was cited as saying.

    Le Pen, who was French President Emmanuel Macron's main challenger in the 2017 presidential race, has been an ardent supporter of protectionism, or rather “intelligent protectionism”, as she says.

    In a somewhat Trumpian way, the leader of the right-wing National Rally has repeatedly stressed the need to fight against unfair international competition and during her campaign promised to protect French workers from what she had described as “anarchic globalisation”.

    aeronautics, France, US, firms, company, Predator, right-wing parties, right-wing, National Rally, Marine Le Pen
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