A Week in France / August 4 : Mergers, pimping, and presidential optimism

Photo: Quinn Dombrowski for flickr

Photo: Quinn Dombrowski for flickr

Every Sunday, La Jeune Politique looks back on the events that made the news in the past week, giving you the chance to catch up on the articles you missed and more.

Sunday, July 21

Adobe Systems Inc has decided to play a part in advanced marketing technology after buying Neolane for $600 million (460 million euros). French company Neolane Inc. has made a name for itself in the digital marketing world since 2001. The company provides tools that allow marketers to generate, optimize, and orchestrate communication and marketing campaigns.

Tuesday, July 23 

The National Union of Students in France (L’Union nationale des étudiants de France) (UNEF) has issued a report condemning the illegal admission of students to 27 public French universities. These schools, run with public funds, have a legal obligation to admit a mix of students of varying abilities to achieve both social and intellectual variation in matriculation numbers. However, in a report, UNEF found that 27 universities have been using the results of “le bac,” the nationalized high school graduation test, to select more successful students.

A contributing factor to this trend lies in the limits of the budget allocated to each university. According to UNEF, 16 schools are on track to be running a deficit by the end of this year. The budget problem has led to further violations of educational laws, with 24 universities being accused of charging illegal additions to registration fees.


Friday, July 26 

Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn faces trial in Paris on charges of “aggravated pimping as part of a group.” Aggravated pimping, as listed under France’s penal code, includes prostitution of minors, use of weaponry, and utilization of multiple prostitutes while operating in a group setting. The crime carries a ten-year prison sentence and a fine of 1.5 million euros.

Strauss-Kahn himself is accused of attending gatherings and events staffed with prostitutes who were paid hefty sums. The case rests on whether he was aware that these women were paid.

Strauss-Kahn first made global headlines in May 2011 for his New York arrest following a sexual assault allegation from a Manhattan hotel maid.

The manufacturer of Mercedes-Benz automobiles has found itself in the middle of a legal battle with the French government after the environmental ministry stopped registering cars whose air-conditioning coolant does not comply with the European Union’s regulations.

The scandal erupted when Daimler, the owner of Mercedes-Benz, became the third German firm to reject the refrigerant called HFO-1234yf, a substance scheduled to be adopted by manufacturers in the European Union by 2017. Although the new coolant is thought to reduce CO2 emissions, Daimler, BMW, and Volkswagen have all opposed the usage of the product, citing flammability concerns.

On Thursday, July 25, however, an administrative court in Versailles ordered France’s environment ministry to re-examine its decision to stop the registration of new Mercedes cars, but did not demand the resumption of registration automatically as Daimler had hoped.

Industrial multinational General Electric (GE) is poised for a major round of downsizing, in a move that has been seen as a consequence of France’s banking crisis. The power giant, which has already trimmed its French operations considerably, is expected to cut roughly 620 jobs within the next 12 months, according to union sources.


Sunday, July 28

The merger of French and American agencies Publicis Groupe and Omnicom Group will create the largest advertising firm in the world, with a combined 35.6% of market share. Paris based Publicis Groupe, headed by Maurice Lévy, currently holds 28.1% of worldwide market share, boasting brands such as Saatchi & Saatchi. The move means that the current largest advertising agency, London-based WPP, will become second largest.  CEO Sir Martin Sorrell told British newspaper The Independent that he expected a “wave of client defections” after the merger, as many clients suddenly found themselves using the same firm as their direct competitors. Companies who are expected to create conflicts of interest with competitors include both Google and Microsoft, and Coca-Cola and Pepsi.


Monday, July 29 

In a major development for the young solar power sector, the EU- China dispute over imported Chinese solar panels seems to have been amicably resolved over the past weekend. With the new agreement, a threatened massive tariff hike on Chinese panels may be averted.

European Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht announced on July 29 that he had sealed a compromise with China, effective to the end of 2015, under which Chinese solar manufacturers agreed to a minimum price and a volume limit on imports to the EU. Chinese firms that comply with the new regulations will be exempted from EU tariffs.


Tuesday, July 30 

The European Commission (EC) has reauthorized popular prescription acne pill Diane-35 for the French market, ending the drug’s three-month suspension. The European Medicines Agency official website has released a statement which said that Diane-35 should be used by women of reproductive age strictly in treating moderate to severe acne or hirsutism, or unwanted hair growth. It argued, “the benefits of Diane-35…and its generics outweigh the risks, provided that several measures are taken to minimize the risk of thromboembolism.”


Friday, August 2

Concluding the first French state visit to Indonesia in 17 years, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius spoke optimistically of a more “united” European Union and South Asian region to Indonesian government officials on Friday, August 2. Fabius spent two days in Jakarta, the nation’s capital, in order to help strengthen French economic relations with the nation. 



Our columnist Hugo Argenton shares with our readers his opinion regarding Hollande’s Bastille Day speech. According to him, it perfectly exemplified Hollande’s struggle. We invite you to read and react.

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