Posts Tagged ‘Paris’

Lebanon needs political action to avoid economic collapse -finance minister

September 12, 2018

Politicians in Lebanon, still lacking a government four months after national elections, need to take action to stop the country’s economic crisis becoming an economic collapse, its finance minister said on Wednesday.

Infighting has hampered efforts by Prime Minister-designate Saad Al-Hariri to form a national unity administration, leaving a political vacuum that has increased concerns for the highly-indebted economy.

“We are not concealing this crisis, but will this crisis inevitably lead us to a collapse? … I say that with strong political commitment, political will and cooperation between all sectors we can avoid it,” caretaker Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said.

Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil made the remarks following a meeting with the government’s economic and social council. (Reuters)

His comments, which followed a meeting with the government’s economic and social council, were televised. Asked by Reuters what he meant by collapse, he replied “the economic situation.”

Leaders from across the political spectrum agree a government urgently needs to be formed, but a deal remains elusive.

Its formation would be likely to help raise investor confidence in the country, unlock billions of dollars in donor funding and enable parliament to embark on long-overdue reforms.

In April, international donors meeting in Paris pledged more than $11 billion of investment, but they want evidence of economic reforms first. At that meeting Hariri promised to reduce the budget deficit as a percentage of GDP by 5 percent over five years.

Lebanon had the world’s third highest debt-to-GDP ratio, at over 150 percent, at the end of 2017. The International Monetary Fund wants to see immediate and substantial fiscal adjustment to improve debt sustainability.

On Wednesday, parliamentary speaker Nabih Berri said Lebanon did not have the luxury of time when it came to forming a government “especially when it comes to the economic situation.”

Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh has said the Lebanese pound, which is pegged to the dollar, will remain stable and that the central bank has high foreign reserves.

He reiterated those comments to broadcaster CNBC on Tuesday.

Lebanon’s foreign assets excluding gold were $43.56 billion at the end of August, according to central bank data.



7 injured in Paris stabbing attack; suspect taken into custody

September 10, 2018

Police secure the area after seven people were wounded in knife attack downtown Paris, France, early Mon., Sept. 10, 2018.

Seven people including two British tourists were wounded Sunday in Paris after they were attacked by a man armed with a knife and an iron bar, according to police and other sources. A source close to the inquiry said the suspect has been arrested and is believed to be an Afghan national.

“Nothing at this stage shows signs of a terrorist nature in these assaults,” the sources said, adding that the attacker had targeted “strangers in the street.”

Of the seven wounded, four are in a critical condition, police said. It was not immediately clear if the attacker was among one of the injured.

The incident took place just after 11 p.m. local time (2100 GMT) on the banks of a canal in the northeast of the capital.


Evidence is shown on the street in downtown Paris where seven people were wounded in a knife attack on Sept. 10, 2018.


A security guard at one of two cinemas on either side of the Canal de l’Ourcq said he saw a man who had already assaulted people being chased by two other men who tried to stop him.

“He had an iron bar in his hand which he threw at the men chasing him, then he took out a knife,” he told AFP.

A police investigation has been launched for attempted murder, according to a judicial source.

Reuters and AFP


Paris knife attack: Man ‘kills mother and sister’ in suburb street

August 23, 2018

A man has killed two people, reportedly his mother and sister, and wounded a third person on a street in a Paris suburb before being killed by police.

An interior ministry source said the victims were relatives of the man and police were looking into reports it was a family quarrel.

The Islamic State group claimed it was behind the attack but offered no proof.

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Some reports say the man threatened to kill police and shouted “Allahu Akbar” (“God is greatest” in Arabic).

France has been on constant alert for jihadist terrorist attacks since the Paris attacks of 2015.

French police secure a street after a man killed two persons and injured an other in a knife attack in Trappes, near Paris. (Reuters)

Thursday’s incident occurred in the run-down south-western suburb of Trappes, close to Versailles.

The suburb is known for gang violence and poverty. It also has Islamists among its large Muslim population, with 50 local people suspected of having left France to fight for the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq, according to security sources quoted by AFP news agency.


Paris knife attack; Islamic State claims responsibility

August 23, 2018

One person has been killed and two others seriously wounded when a man attacked pedestrians with a knife in Paris, French authorities said Thursday. The attacker was killed by police.

BFM-TV reported that the attacker carried  out the stabbings in Trappes, a suburb in western Paris, and sheltered in a house before he was shot by police.

Reuters reported that police “neutralized” the attacker, citing a police source.

Image result for soldiers, eiffel tower, photos

FILE photo

The Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the attack on its Aamaq news agency. The claim couldn’t immediately be verified.

There have been a number of high-profile terror attacks in Paris and other locations in France in recent years, many of them claimed by ISIS.


Paris knife attack: One killed, two seriously injured –Man Shouted “Allahu akbar.”

August 23, 2018

A man has killed one person and injured two others in a knife attack in the Paris suburb of Trappes. Local reports said the knife attacker has been shot down by police and killed.

A file photo of the red and white tape used by the French national police to secure a zone from traffic.

One person was killed and two seriously wounded in a knife attack in the Paris suburb of Trappes, about 30 kilometers (20 miles) southwest of the French capital.

The knife attacker was then shot down by police and killed, Reuters news agency reported, citing a police source who added that the motive for the attack was under investigation.

Near the wealthy area of Versailles, Trappes, with a population of around 30,000 and part of the French capital’s far suburbs, the area is known for problems linked to poverty and gangs.

More to follow…

ap/sms (Reuters, AP, AFP)


One killed in knife attack in Paris suburb — “Allahu akbar.”

August 23, 2018

One person was killed and two seriously wounded in a knife attack in the Paris suburb of Trappes, a police source said.

The knife attacker was then shot down by police and killed, the source said.

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BFM TV said the attacker shouted “Allahu akbar.”

Trappes is an underprivileged town situated in an overall wealthy area west of Paris.


Reporting by Emmanuel Jarry; Writing by Ingrid Melander; Editing by John Irish


Activist group Femen co-founder commits suicide in Paris, reports say

July 24, 2018

One of the co-founders of Femen, a Ukrainian feminist and political activist group known for its topless demonstrations, reportedly committed suicide in her Paris apartment on Monday, media reports said.

Fellow Femen activist Inna Shevchenko confirmed the death of Oksana Shachko after social media reports emerged.

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Shachko reportedly left a handwritten note saying “You are all fake” before taking her life. Media reports also alleged that she previously tried twice to commit suicide over the past two years.

Founded in 2008, Femen became globally known after organizing topless protests on various issues such as sex tourism, homophobia and religious institutions.

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Femen surprises Merkel and Putin

Although it was founded in Ukraine, the activist group is currently based in Paris.

Femen members demonstrate against National Front leader Marine Le Pen. AFP photo

That Giant Sucking Sound is Post-Brexit London Losing Out

July 10, 2018

The U.K. capital’s rivals are slowly carving chunks out of its business.

There won’t be so many commuters like these.

Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Lingchi is the Chinese word for a form of torture in which flesh was systematically sliced from the body of the condemned, resulting in death by a thousand cuts. It was banned there in 1905; but, with Brexit looming, the practice is set for a revival in the City of London.

The British government continues to be riven by disagreements over what it wants its future relationship with the European Union to look like. And while the U.K. so far has only had one referendum on Brexit, the financial services industry gets to vote as often as it wants — and it is signaling deep disquiet with the likely outcome.

U.S. asset management behemoth BlackRock Inc. and investment bank Citigroup Inc. have been persuaded to expand in Paris with the promise of reduction in red tape, according to the Financial Times. JPMorgan Chase & Co. said last week that it’s asked “several dozen” of its London employees to relocate to other cities in the EU including Paris, Madrid and Milan. The moves could accelerate “depending on the outcome of negotiations,” the bank said in a memo.

The U.K. has already conceded that it won’t have the same access to EU markets for services after the divorce. The government said last week that it will seek “arrangements on financial services that preserve the mutual benefits of integrated markets and protect financial stability, noting that these could not replicate the EU’s passporting regimes.”

That’s not a particularly reassuring vision. Offering crash courses in French, Italian and German to soon-to-be-London-emigres could be a growth business for some enterprising entrepreneur.

So it’s little wonder that the number of foreign direct investment projects established in the U.K. last year declined, while other countries won more business, according to the latest U.K. Attractiveness Report published by consulting firm EY on Monday.

The drop in projects has real consequences. The U.K.’s share of the jobs created by the financial services industry in Europe shrank to 16 percent last year, its lowest level in a decade, according to EY. Back in 2016, the figure stood at 37 percent.

Ross Perot was wrong when he suggested in the 1992 presidential campaign that the “giant sucking sound” was the U.S. losing jobs as a result of the North American Free Trade Agreement. But it’s increasingly hard to see how London can avoid an outflow of bankers, traders and investors if the current state of uncertainty persists.

The U.K. capital may, for now, remain the favored destination for investment in Europe, and it’s not about to hang up its brogues just yet. But money has always flowed to where it feels welcome and stayed where it’s well looked after. Given the current government’s apparent disdain for business in general and financial services in particular, no wonder London’s rivals are slowly carving out chunks of its business.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:
Mark Gilbert at

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Edward Evans at


BlackRock and Citi plan Paris expansion in Macron coup

July 9, 2018

US fund manager chooses French capital as new base for alternative investment services

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Martin Arnold and Owen Walker in London and David Keohane in Paris

French president Emmanuel Macron’s charm offensive to win business from the City of London is starting to pay off as BlackRock and Citigroup join other Wall Street groups in expanding their Paris operations ahead of Brexit.

Mr Macron has rolled out the red carpet for financial services companies, promising to cut taxes and red tape while talking up the economic prospects of the country with a “France is back” pitch.

In a victory for the French president, BlackRock has chosen Paris over London for its new base to provide alternative investment services across Europe and Asia, as the world’s biggest money manager aims to dominate markets outside its US home.

The decision by BlackRock follows months of courting by the French establishment, including a meeting between Mr Macron and Larry Fink, chief executive of the $6.3tn asset manager, at the Elysée Palace.

The French leader has also persuaded Citi to expand in the country. The US bank recently poached senior investment bankers from UBS in France as part of plans to add dozens of extra staff in Paris.

“The effect of Macron has lightened up the country — before his election it was pretty bleak,” said Luigi de Vecchi, chairman of corporate and investment banking in continental Europe at Citi, who is moving from Milan to Paris. “As you talk to French CEOs, they are all pumped up with tons of cash and aggressive plans.”

BlackRock, which already has nearly 50 staff in Paris and manages around €30bn for French clients, applied to the French markets regulator, the Autorité des Marchés Financiers, two weeks ago for a licence to set up an alternative investment fund management company in the country. This would enable it to sell products such as hedge funds, real estate and commodities funds to the global market from its Paris office.

The company hopes to receive authorisation in September. Last month it hired Henri Chabadel as chief investment officer for France, Belgium and Luxembourg, based in Paris.

London will remain BlackRock’s main European office and the company does not plan to relocate staff from the UK to Paris. Any hires will be new roles. BlackRock declined to comment.

With nine months to go before the UK leaves the EU, financiers are frustrated at the lack of progress in negotiations on the terms of Britain’s departure. Many are starting to rejig their European operations to cope with any disruption. But Brexit was not the main motivation for the French expansion of BlackRock or Citi.

“The question is whether in the long term banks will see the number of large corporate clients reduced in the UK,” said Mr de Vecchi, pointing out that Brexit had made British companies vulnerable to takeover by weakening the pound. “Whereas in France you are seeing the creation of European champions.”

Arnaud de Bresson of the business lobby group Paris Europlace said financial companies were ramping up plans to open offices in France. “The first teams are arriving,” he added. “It’s true for asset management companies — including coming from London — but also for international banks.”

Citigroup, which employs about 160 people in Paris, said in an internal memo that it had hired Gregoire Haemmerle and Pierre Drevillon from UBS to become head of its French corporate and investment banking unit and head of French M&A, respectively.

Citi plans to add 150 jobs in its sales and trading operation in Frankfurt and as many as 100 more, mostly in Paris, but also spread across Milan, Madrid, Dublin and Amsterdam.

In the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote, most Wall Street banks opted for Frankfurt or Dublin to create their alternative EU hubs. But recently some have been unveiling plans to bulk up in Paris.

Lloyd Blankfein, chief executive of Goldman Sachs, said in a tweet last year that he was “struck by the positive energy here in Paris” before the bank announced last month that France was a priority in its plans to double its workforce in continental Europe.

Bank of America said recently it was relocating three senior investment bankers from London to Paris. JPMorgan Chase said last week it expected to “migrate or add a few hundred roles” to the EU ahead of Brexit — many of which are set to be in Paris. Morgan Stanley also plans to add about 80 jobs in Paris after Brexit. HSBC, which already has a big French operation, has said it is likely to move up to 1,000 jobs to Paris.

In addition, inter-dealer broker TP ICAP is in talks with French regulators about setting up a base in Paris in the first quarter of 2019.

Riots ease as family of French police shooting victim plans lawsuit

July 8, 2018

A relative calm began to return to the western French city of Nantes early Sunday after days of rioting over a police officer’s fatal shooting of a black man, whose family plans to file a lawsuit over a killing which has cast a fresh spotlight on tensions in deprived urban areas.

The officer who shot 22-year-old Aboubakar Fofana, after pulling over his vehicle last Tuesday, has been charged with manslaughter after admitting he had falsely claimed self-defence.

But he has said he fired accidently while reaching through the car window to try to wrest control of the vehicle as Fofana tried to flee, according to prosecutors, a version of events dismissed by many residents.

© AFP | Protesters have torched dozens of vehicles in Nantes, western France, since riots broke out over the killing of a black youth by a police officer on July 3

“How can it be an accidental shooting when you take out your gun and remove the safety?” said Said, a manager of a community association in Breil, the neighbourhood where the shooting took place and which is home to a large public housing estate with a history of gang violence.

“We are gathering witnesses and nobody has seen any scuffle. The officer was standing, hands outstretched and he fired,” according to Said, who declined to give his last name.

Loic Bourgeois, a lawyer for Fofana’s mother and sister, told AFP on Saturday that they would file a civil lawsuit against the officer on Monday.

For now, “they want to be left alone to deal with this tragedy,” he said.

– ‘Anger far from over’ –

News of the killing sparked fierce riots in several areas of Nantes starting overnight Tuesday to Wednesday, with dozens of cars torched and several buildings vandalised while police tried to disperse crowds with tear gas.

The nightly violence began to ease Friday after the officer was charged, while police said 18 vehicles were burned and no arrests were made early Sunday.

Like other cities across France, Nantes has several poor neighbourhoods with large immigrant communities where youths often accuse police of heavy-handed tactics and racial profiling.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has promised “the fullest transparency” in investigating the circumstances of Fofana’s death, amid concerns the unrest could spread.

A protest march has been scheduled in Paris on Sunday afternoon.

“The anger is far from over and it won’t end as long as there is no justice,” a 36-year-old named Chris, who described himself as a social mediator in Breil, told AFP.

“We are going to keep trying to convince those who are reluctant to testify to do so,” he said.

Anger had already bubbled over last year when a young black man in another Paris suburb suffered severe anal injuries caused by a truncheon during his arrest.

And in 2005 riots erupted across the country after the deaths of two black teenagers who were electrocuted in a Paris suburb while hiding from the police.

The simmering tensions mean security forces themselves are often targeted.

Prosecutors said Saturday police had detained a second suspect sought in the brutal beating of two off-duty officers, a husband and wife, who were attacked in front of their three-year-old daughter in a northeastern suburb of Paris on Wednesday.

A police source said the attackers recognised the policewoman because she had recently stopped them for an ID check in the high-crime suburb of Aulnay-sous-Bois.