“It’s important not only to have ships. There will also be a need to make sure that they are protected.” He would not give details, but said the money for the ship deal came “from a loan from another country, but I can’t say which one.” Hollande’s office said the contract with CMN is just part of a larger global deal with the holding company Privinvest, owned by Lebanese magnate Iskandar Safa. Hollande’s office wouldn’t comment on the possible weapons negotiations because the deal is not public. Safa, who played a prominent role in Monday’s events in Cherbourg, declined to give details on the agreements involved. Safa, who helped negotiate the release of French hostages in Lebanon in 1988, faced a French arrest warrant for several years in the 2000s because of suspicions around his financial transactions with senior French officials. The case against him was dropped in 2009 by the French prosecutors for lack of evidence. Meanwhile, Mozambicans are asking how all these purchases are being financed. Mozambique is ranked 185 out of 187 on the U.N.’s human development index. But it has been enjoying strong economic growth, boosted by the discovery of large reserves of offshore natural gas. Fatima Mimbire, who works with anti-corruption group Transparency International in Mozambique, said the government has released contradictory information on the value of the ship deal ranging from 200 million euros to $500 million and about which company is behind it. “If members of the government aren’t talking the same language, something is wrong,” she said.
Direct Energie Offers Online Discounts as France Raises Tariffs
But there are disagreements over financial commitments and a possible business strategy for the Italian group should a merger go ahead, sources familiar with the matter said. “Our conditions for helping Alitalia are very strict. If the conditions are met, I am ready to go ahead,” Air France-KLM Chief Executive Alexandre de Juniac told French daily Les Echos on Tuesday, without giving more details on the terms he had in mind. Gilberto Benetton, who invests in Alitalia via motorway group Atlantia’s 8.9 percent stake in the airline, said earlier on Tuesday he would welcome Air France-KLM taking control of the group, but warned Italy’s interests should be protected first. Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta, other ministers, banks and Alitalia’s management met on Tuesday to find a way of beefing up Alitalia’s finances to give it greater negotiating clout in its dealings with Air France-KLM. But the talks failed to reach any decision because of the uncertain political climate and another meeting was called for next week. There are worries that any Air France-KLM investment would clash with Italy’s ambition to make Rome a hub for intercontinental flights, and instead turn Alitalia into a regional player and trigger job cuts. But de Juniac’s comments signaled he did not doubt Alitalia’s ability to operate on long-haul routes – a strategy the group is betting on to revive its fortunes after its plans to become a strong regional player came unstuck in the face of tough competition and lower demand. “Air France-KLM-Alitalia, if one day we are united, could become a very great European brand. In such a scenario, we could supply (Alitalia’s) long-haul flights with passengers from Air France and KLM and they could do the same for us,” he said. De Juniac added that he could see Alitalia boosting its intercontinental routes where its own network might be weak.
France-Mozambique Ship Deal Raises Questions
Households are eligible for rebates of as much as 10 percent on the state-set tariffs, it said on its website . France allowed EDF to raise residential electricity rates 5 percent on Aug. 1 and a further 5 percent next year. Last year, the rates were the second-lowest in the European Union, adjusted for average income, according to Eurostat. Frances regulator agreed with companies such as Direct Energie that the low rates meant they couldnt compete against state-controlled utilities. For years EDF was selling below cost of production through regulated rates, Direct Energie Chief Executive Officer Xavier Caitucoli said today on BFM radio. If EDF is allowed to cover its costs, competitors can compete with regulated rates. Its an important change. The opening of the market to competition has been an obstacle course. Direct Energie is gaining about 6,000 new clients a month, he said. The company, which merged with Poweo SA, had 798,000 power and 227,000 gas customers in France last year, compared with the nations 35 million power and 11 million gas buyers. Market Dominance The markets are dominated by former monopolies, according to the latest Commission de Regulation de lEnergie figures. Alternative suppliers including Direct Energie had 8.3 percent of the household power market by volume at the end of June and about a fifth of the market for businesses. For gas in the same period, these suppliers had 12 percent of the household market and 45 percent of businesses, according to CRE. Direct Energie buys about 80 percent of its power from EDF nuclear output and gas from spot markets, its 2012 report shows. GDF Suez, the former gas monopoly, said this week it would push to gain more power customers after tariffs rose.