French President Nicolas Sarkozy has proposed a sovereign wealth fund to invest in French companies in a bid to keep them from falling into the hands of "predators."
In a speech in Annecy, France, on Thursday, Mr. Sarkozy said he would like to launch the National Strategic Investment Fund by the end of the year to provide loans or acquire stakes in companies deemed as "strategically important."
The fund would be managed by state-owned investment company Caisse des Depots, which also is administrator of French retirement savings, saving deposits and other assets. The company invests in French-listed companies, private equity, real estate and infrastructure among other assets.
Mr. Sarkozy did not reveal how big the fund would be, how the assets would be invested or how he would finance the new fund, confirmed Isabelle Sauvar, spokeswoman for Caisse des Depots. "Nothing has been decided," Ms. Sauvar added.
However, Mr. Sarkozy hinted in the speech that at least some of the money would come from existing Caisse des Depots funds. At the year-end 2007, Caisse des Depots reported €221 billion ($280 billion) in assets, according to its annual report.
The new fund will invest "in equity in order to finance innovative and bold industrial projects," according to a news release about Mr. Sarkozy's announcement. "He has asked for this fund to act as a wise investor with a medium and long-term orientation."
As part of a broader initiative to stem the disastrous effects of the global economic crisis,
Mr. Sarkozy - who also is serving a six-month term as European Union president - also called on other EU nations to follow his lead. So far, government officials from other countries have not heeded his call.
"Nothing in the global economy will be the same as before," Mr. Sarkozy said in the speech.