The planned sale of a 49.99% government stake in the firm that manages Toulouse airport, where Airbus tests and assembles its planes, to a Chinese consortium has sparked concerns across France’s political spectrum.
Paris announced on Thursday that it had decided to sell a €308 million ($381 million) stake in the firm that manages Toulouse airport to the Symbiose consortium that includes Chinese state-owned group Shandong Hi-Speed Group and Hong Kong-based investment company Friedmann Pacific Asset Management.
In an interview with local daily La Dépêche du Midi, Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron insisted that the airport was not being privatised, pointing out that the French state – which retains a 10.01 percent stake – along with local authorities would still be majority owners.
But officials on both sides of the political divide expressed their reservations on the planned sale, pointing out that French firms had also been in the running to purchase the stake.
“France is selling its shares to the Chinese state, and therefore to the Communist Party, as these firms are held by the Chinese state,” said Jean-Louis Chauzy, head of the local economic, social and environmental council.
Far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen also criticised the planned sale, as did Marie-Noelle Lienemann, a Socialist senator who tweeted that airports must remain public.
“Macron believes he is in Greece, where the government sold ports to the Chinese to reduce deficits, which continued to increase,” she said.
The Chinese connection could enable the facility to become a new point of entry in France for sought-after Chinese tourists in the face of saturated Paris airports.
Full article: French plans for airport sale to China spark unease (France 24)