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France to host 140 foreign CEOs for pre-Davos summit

President Emmanuel Macron

Paris, France | AFP | Nearly 140 chief executives from companies around the world will gather at the Versailles Palace outside Paris on Monday, as the French government steps up its efforts to attract more foreign investors.

President Emmanuel Macron orchestrated what is being billed as an “attractiveness summit” as executives converge for the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, next week.

A handful of economic accords are to be announced, including a major investment in “traditional industry” and two in “high-tech and artificial intelligence”, an official in the president’s office said.

“We are going to take advantage of the fact that on their way to Davos, corporate leaders are coming to Europe and can make a stop in Paris,” the official said, asking not to be named.

The 40-year-old French leader has introduced a series of business-friendly reforms since taking power in May, including loosening labour laws and cutting taxes, and is aiming to slash unemployment from 9.7 percent to 7.0 percent by 2022.

The session will begin with a lunch with Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, followed by sessions with government ministers and prominent figures including the mathematician Cedric Villani, who became an MP last year as part of Macron’s Republic On The Move (LREM) party.

Macron will cap the event with a closed-door speech and dinner.

“The president had a quiet straightforward goal, that an ‘attractiveness summit’ doesn’t make any sense unless it comes with concrete projects,” the source said.

About ten projects are currently being negotiated, the source added.

“The important thing for us, beyond explanations, is to show projects that will make them want to invest in France.”

Roughly half of the participants will come from European companies, including Bosch, SAP, Novartis and Rolls-Royce.

About 25 percent will come from American groups, and the remainder from Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

The bosses of JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, HSBC and Bank of America are expected to attend, while China’s Alibaba will be represented by its deputy CEO.

Some 3,000 participants are expected to head to Swiss Alps for the 48th Davos conference that opens Tuesday.

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