'Choose France' summit secures €3.5 bln in investments

'Choose France' summit secures €3.5 bln in investments

Pro-business summit saw French president, ministers meeting with business executives a day before Davos forum

By Hajer M'tiri

PARIS (AA) – Some 140 business leaders from around the globe on Monday announced or confirmed a total of 3.5 billion euros ($4.2 billion) in investments in France as part of a pro-business summit organized by President Emmanuel Macron.

A former investment banker, Macron and 15 of his ministers met with CEOs and top executives from Google, Facebook, Coca-Cola, HSBC, Goldman Sachs, Samsung and Alibaba during the “Choose France” summit held at the Versailles Palace.

The investments will help create 2,200 jobs within the next five years, according to French daily Le Figaro.

Quoting sources from the Elysee Palace, the newspaper said Facebook will invest 10 million euros ($12 million) in its French artificial intelligence center by 2022.

The social media giant also announced in a statement that it will train 65,000 French people in digital skills as part of a series of free schemes to help women set up businesses and the long-term unemployed get back to work.

Google will open a new research center in artificial intelligence in Paris in the coming weeks. The internet company also confirmed, without revealing the cost, the expansion of its Paris headquarters this year, increasing the number of employees from 700 to 1,000.

Earlier Monday, Japan's multinational automotive manufacturer Toyota unveiled a 300-million-euro ($367 million) plan to enlarge its Onnaing car factory in northern France, creating 800 new jobs by 2020.

Other announcements concerned four food production plants and a research center in wireless technologies.

The summit, which comes a day before the Davos World Economic Forum in neighboring Switzerland, is seen as part of the French president's efforts to attract foreign investment at a time when the UK is mired in Brexit negotiations and German Chancellor Angela Merkel is facing a bumpy road in forming a coalition government.

Last June, France became the home of Europe's biggest start-up hub, Station F, financed by telecoms billionaire Xavier Niel, the previous French government and the Paris City Council.

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