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French parliament adopts proposals for privatisations and ADP stake sale

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By Reuters

PARIS (Reuters) – French lawmakers adopted on Thursday a government bill aimed at kickstarting a wave of privatisations, including a sale of the state’s stake in airports group ADP, to raise cash for a new innovation fund.

The Assemblee Nationale – in which President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist LREM party has a commanding majority – voted in favour of the so-called “Loi Pacte” legislation bill, with 147 votes in favour of the bill versus 50 against.

“This is a law which will help our economy and prepare us for the future,” French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told reporters in the parliament.

“We want to make ADP a world champion in terms of airport traffic,” he added.

Macron’s government has consistently said it aims to start the ADP privatisation process in 2019, but the plan has been criticised by some opposition parties over fears it could result in job cuts or a loss of control for a key national asset.

Those privatisation proposals form part of a broader strategy to raise cash to boost the economy and finance technological innovations in France.

Le Maire had said last year that France would block any moves by a foreign power to gain control of ADP.

Based on current market prices, the French state’s 50.6 percent shareholding in ADP is worth around 8.8 billion euros (7.59 billion pounds).

Privatisations are only part of the wide-ranging law, which also reduces red tape for starting new firms and makes it easier to introduce employee profit-sharing schemes.

(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Leigh Thomas)