Touting ‘transformation’, French PM seeks investment in Dubai

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe speaks during the World Government Summit in Dubai, UAE Feb. 11, 2018. (Reuters/Christopher Pike)
Updated 11 February 2018
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Touting ‘transformation’, French PM seeks investment in Dubai

DUBAI: France’s Prime Minister Edouard Philippe promised lower taxes and a business-friendly France at a global summit in Dubai on Sunday, seeking investment from the oil-rich Gulf region.
“France is undergoing great transformation,” Philippe said, addressing a thousand-strong audience at Dubai’s World Government Summit.
The prime minister pledged a “favorable framework for business and investment” and a drop in corporate taxes in France.
The annual summit, often dubbed the Davos of the Middle East, brings together a cosmopolitan lineup of business and political figures — with Indian premier Narendra Modi as this year’s guest of honor.
Philippe sought to contrast the policies of President Emmanuel Macron with the isolationist trends of other Western nations, including Britain leaving the European Union and the election of US President Donald Trump.
On Saturday, the French premier met the heads of the two largest sovereign funds in the United Arab Emirates, as well as Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.
“What I felt was their continued interest in what we were doing and prospects available in France,” he said.
No concrete agreements have yet been announced.
With sovereign funds worth more than $800 billion, but only a fraction of that — around $3 billion — invested in France, Paris is working to capture a larger share of UAE petrodollars.
“We must make our country more attractive to foreign investors, and there is work to be done,” Philippe told members of the French community living in the United Arab Emirates late Saturday, speaking on board a French military vessel docked in Dubai harbor.
The United Arab Emirates hosts three French military bases.
It has also become a major contributor to the French-backed coalition fighting jihadists in Africa’s Sahel region, pledging $30 million in December.


Barclays payments to Qatar would have been ‘unacceptable’ to market, London court hears

Updated 19 February 2019
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Barclays payments to Qatar would have been ‘unacceptable’ to market, London court hears

  • The UK Serious Fraud Office alleges that four bankers agreed to pay £322 million in secret fees to Qatar
  • It is claimed that Barclays agreed to pay Qatar more than double the standard 1.5 percent investment commission and hid this from other investors

LONDON: Former Barclays Chairman Marcus Agius could not remember if he was told the bank was paying higher fees to Qatar than other investors during an £11.2 billion ($14.6 billion) fundraising in the depths of the 2008 financial crisis, a London court heard on Tuesday.

However he said that paying such commission to one set of underwriters and not the other would have been “unacceptable to the market.” Agius is not accused of any wrongdoing.

He was the first witness to testify in the trial of four former Barclays executives, who include the then CEO John Varley.

“I would have wanted to understand why it would’ve been necessary,” he told the court.

The UK Serious Fraud Office alleges that the four bankers agreed to pay £322 million in secret fees to Qatar.

During the fraud trial — which began in January — the prosecution told the court that the then Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim demanded a personal fee for investing in Barclays.

It is claimed that Barclays agreed to pay Qatar more than double the standard 1.5 percent investment commission and hid this from other investors by making the payments through what prosecutors alleged were bogus Advisory Services Agreements, or ASAs, Southwark Crown Court heard.

Agius also told the court that he feared resignations from the board in 2008.

“Any one of them might have said, ‘This wasn’t what I signed up for, how do I get out of here?,’” he said.

“I’m clear that in June 2008 we at Barclays did not anticipate how much worse things were going to get. I don’t think we thought it was going to go as badly as it ultimately did.”