US funds invited by Macron to the FrenchTech road show

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by Gwénaëlle Barzic, Mathieu Rosemain and Michel Rose

PARIS (Reuters) – Emmanuel Macron has this week invited Paris to the largest venture capital funds for two days of immersion in the "French Tech", hoping to convince them to invest in start-up companies "home" without the repatriate in Silicon Valley, said four sources to Reuters.

Leaders of Andreessen Horowitz, Sequoia Capital, General Atlantic, KKR or Goldman Sachs are among the forty venture capitalists and investors expected Wednesday and Thursday for a "road show" in the French.

On the program: visit of the high-tech sites of France, meeting with international figures of the sector installed in Paris, speed-dating and in closing, direct exchange with the French president, said the sources to Reuters before the violence that sowed chaos in the capital Saturday on the sidelines of a day of demonstration of "Yellow Vests".

The challenge for Paris is twofold: to convince these funds, with their unrivaled financial firepower, to increase their investments in France but also to highlight the advantages of an ecosystem that combines schools, researchers and accelerators and incubators young shoots.

"The big issue for French start-ups is to get bigger.There must be funds that are able to put more than 50 tickets, even more than 100 million euros," says one source at the Elysée.

"But it's an ecosystem and so there is an interest to come here, to invest in companies, and to say that there is no need to take them," says the source.

These working sessions, which have no official character and are not public, were scheduled before the emergence of the Yellow Vests movement and the framework of the exchanges with Emmanuel Macron remains to be arbitrated.

The "French Tech" has taken off in recent years, driven by better access to finance, a set of favorable government measures and the uncertainties caused by the Brexit in the United Kingdom, long undisputed leader of the place.

If the number of start-up creations has soared, the French and European champions still struggle to compete with their American and Asian competitors and many young shoots pass under foreign flag before even having been able to claim the status of "unicorn" ".

CHARMING OPERATION CONTINUES

France, like its European neighbors, suffers from the difficulty of growing its start-ups, handicapped by the lack of large funds called "growth" but also by the reluctance of the giants of the CAC 40, few to take the risk to invest in the new economy.

The number of funds raising over 40 million euros has certainly more than tripled between 2016 and 2018, according to statistics from bpiFrance, which plays a leading role in the financing of tech.

But funding exceeding 100 million euros can be counted on the fingers of one hand, according to a barometer established by the firm EY in September.

Since the beginning of the year, Voodoo has exceeded this threshold by raising $ 200 million from Goldman Sachs while Green Yellow, a subsidiary of Casino dedicated to solar energy, has obtained 150 million euros.

Paris is stepping up its charm operations as major European capitals compete to take advantage of the new breed created by Brexit.

In the sumptuous setting of the Palace of Versailles, Emmanuel Macron had gathered at the beginning of the year 140 leaders of multinationals within the framework of a summit called "Choose France", reiterating an exercise he had already initiated when he was minister of Economy.

This week, the venture capital funds and the "Limited Partners" will visit the giant incubator Station F, financed by billionaire entrepreneur Xavier Niel, where they will meet the "cream of the crop" of start-up companies. believed.

Figures of innovation that have invested in the country will also be called to make the article, like David Gurle, founder of encrypted messaging Symphony, which has established part of its R & D in Sofia Antopolis, in the South of France. Tony Fadell, former Apple and Google now installed in France and Ian Rogers, head of digital at the French luxury giant LVMH, will also intervene.

French investors will also be represented in force, the aim being to create collaborations on both sides of the Atlantic.

(Edited by Jean-Michel Belot)