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Macron to call on U.S. funds to build French start-ups, not steal them

Reuters  |  PARIS 

By Rosemain, Gwenaëlle Barzic and Michel Rose

PARIS (Reuters) - French will urge a visiting group of top Silicon Valley venture capitalists this week to invest in the nation's start-ups while calling on them not to "steal" the best creations, four sources told

The discreet event, not mentioned in Macron's official schedule, comes at a tough time for the French leader after rioters looted and ransacked boutiques and businesses in central Paris, chaotic images beamed around the world.

Executives from some of the biggest names in U.S. tech funding, including Andreessen Horowitz, and Atlantic, are among the 40 expected in Paris on Wednesday and Thursday for a tour of the French startup scene.

The two-day roadshow includes presentations from what sources called tech 'superstars' already investing in as well as visits to hubs such as the tech incubator in eastern Paris.

But instead of simply urging them to invest in France, Macron, who is scheduled to host the investors at the on Thursday evening, will also tell the U.S. funds to help French businesses to flourish rather than pushing the best French entrepreneurs to move to the

"Today, many French companies raise money in the U.S., and the usual reflex of U.capitalists is to tell them: 'come to the then'," a source at Macron's office told

"We will tell them: it's an ecosystem, your best interest is to do like in Britain and Israel: invest here and don't move everything (to the U.S.)," the source said.

The event was scheduled before the nationwide protests that turned the French capital into a battle zone and the format of Macron's appearance has yet to be finalised, sources said.

With his authority challenged by the "yellow vest" protesters, who sprawled anti-capitalist slogans on banks and boutiques on Saturday, Macron has his work cut out to counter the damage done to France's image.

BREXIT BENEFIT

The French tech scene has seen a boom in recent years, helped by Macron's efforts to turn into a "startup nation", as a new generation of tech-savvy entrepreneurs less interested in government careers tap into the large pool of engineers that France's top universities produce every year.

Macron aides say France's tech sector is poised to take advantage of Britain's planned exit from the EU to overtake its major European rival.

"We think the French ecosystem will outgrow the one in England in the coming years," is one of the messages the U.S. investors will hear, the Elysee source said. and private equity fund KKR are also among the attendees.

But French companies say the most promising startups need access to bigger funding rounds if they are to stay. Investments are not large enough to create "unicorns" worth more than $1 billion. So far this year, only two French firms have closed investment rounds of more than 100 million euros.

Instead, successful French startups get snapped up by U.S. rivals, with social mapping firm Zenly's acquisition by last year particularly riling the French tech scene.

Investors on the two-day visit will tour Station F, a startup campus funded by telecoms billionaire They will meet entrepreneurs such as David Gurle, boss of U.S. encrypted messaging service Symphony, who moved its research centre to a in southeastern

Among other U.S. tech figures who have chosen to relocate to France and who will make pitches are Tony Fadell, a developer of Apple's iPhone, and Ian Rogers, a former at its media player iTunes, now of group

(Writing by Rosemain; Editing by Keith Weir)

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, December 03 2018. 16:05 IST
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