Breakingviews

Strikes upset France’s reform calculus

May 24, 2016

Labour law changes forced through by the Socialist government are sparking strikes in refineries, ports, and railways. The benefits of the measures were watered down when the reforms were diluted. Protracted social unrest could deter investment and push up the costs.

Marchionne’s job upgrade bodes ill for Fiat

May 3, 2016

The storied boss of Fiat Chrysler has taken over as chief executive of spun-out Ferrari, too. Leading the iconic luxury carmaker is surely the more alluring of the two jobs. Yet challenged Fiat Chrysler arguably needs Sergio Marchionne’s full attention more than ever.

Wanted: candidates for Europe’s worst CEO job

April 6, 2016

Air France-KLM’s boss Alexandre de Juniac has vacated an unenviable managerial position. Europe’s weakest legacy carrier is hobbled by high costs, mighty unions and a wayward state shareholder. His successor will need fluent French, modest pay expectations, and little ambition.

YSL adds to unhappy trend of big designer exits

April 1, 2016

Hedi Slimane is leaving the luxury house after four years. It’s a setback for one of French group Kering’s fastest-growing labels. Losing the odd creative is no crisis, but with recent exits at Dior, Gucci and Lanvin, retaining talent could drag on profitability. 

Peugeot could rev revival by scrapping luxury line

February 24, 2016

The French group has become one of Europe’s most profitable mass-market carmakers under boss Carlos Tavares, with a 5 pct operating margin in 2015. But a costly plan for a new premium brand risks spoiling the performance. Junking the idea would speed an already healthy recovery.

Gucci gives sneak preview of life after turnaround

February 19, 2016

Kering’s most important luxury brand beat sales estimates in the fourth quarter, the result of more desirable products and a slick advertising campaign. It looks to be putting three years of bumpy growth behind it. Yet falling operating profit margins will continue to drag on the valuation.

SocGen triumphalism rings hollow

February 11, 2016

Boss Frederic Oudea hailed the “good” full-year result for the French bank’s main business lines as he hiked dividends to half of earnings. But new legal provisions put Societe Generale’s fourth-quarter return on equity at 4.7 pct. With costs up, his confidence seems misplaced.

Dixon: EU could fall apart without flexibility

December 21, 2015

Brussels’ knee-jerk reaction to crises is to ask for more power. Its latest series of problems has fuelled right-wing populism, which feeds off the idea that the EU already has too much influence. Unless the bloc adopts more decentralised solutions, it could unravel.

Sanofi and Boehringer scratch each others’ backs

December 15, 2015

The French pharma group is swapping its animal health business for the consumer arm of the German company. The 23 billion euro deal helps both while avoiding the risk of expensive M&A. Boehringer may have a marginally better deal, but Sanofi’s need is probably greater.

New Renault-Nissan pact is only roadside repair

December 14, 2015

France’s growing power at Renault is curbed, as is the French carmaker’s sway in Japan. It ends months of distraction for the auto alliance led by Carlos Ghosn. But the fiddly legal fixes only go so far. It would be better to see the duo drive towards a full merger.