En Marche faces rocky road in pursuit of FDJ sale

France’s Senate has revealed that it will review the proposed sale of state-owned assets Française des Jeux (FDJ) and Aéroports de Paris (ADP) this April.

The decision follows the approved passage of the ‘PACTE Loi’ mandate, which seeks to implement the En Marche government’s headline ‘Enterprise and Innovation’ programme, which will move to privatise a number of French public firms and services.

Alongside ADP, France’s national airport management firm, national lottery and sports betting operator FDJ will become the first state assets to be reviewed by the Senate.

The French government owns a 72% stake in FDJ, with En Marche reported to target a +€3 billion sale of the company, offloading all equity in the gambling enterprise.

Nevertheless, opposition to En Marche has declared that the French government should maintain a significant stake in both firms, which will assure that ADP and FDJ maintain their employment rights and civic purposes.

En Marche has previously been reported to seek a full divestment of both assets, yet it is unknown whether President Emmanuel Macron, will fully commit to the PACTE mandate, as his popularity has plummeted, rocked by En Marche’s handling of the ‘Gilets Jaunes’ movement.

The stakes are high for President Macron, who is currently undertaking a two-month ‘listening tour’ of French provinces seeking to engage with France’s disgruntled citizens.

Despite En Marche leaders stating that the privatisation programme will deliver France’s economy the means to ‘innovate, transform and create new jobs’, several French employment unions have threatened to strike should a deep sale be carried forward.

Furthermore, in relation to the gambling sector, the French Assembly has stated that an FDJ sale can only be permitted if the government forms a new regulatory body which will monitor all disciplines of French gambling.

The demand would see En Marche move to split the responsibilities of ARJEL, monitoring French online gambling services, the French ministry regulating betting enterprises and France Agricultural supervision of horseracing laws.

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