French Radiance Selling Itself
An “exploratory mission” (with quotation marks and “(sic)” in this week’s edition of the satirical newspaper Le Canard Enchaîné) on the future of the nuclear sector in France (i.e. on the privatization of Areva) has been entrusted to HSBC and McKinsey. The consultancy mission is not likely to be that “exploratory” because, as pointed out by the financial newspaper Les Echos:
“The two firms in charge of sketching out the contours of the nuclear sector do not start from scratch. HSBC was designated three years ago by the state to work out the opening of Areva’s capital. In 2005, it recruited Philippe Pontet, former president of Areva’s surveillance committee. McKinsey has also some links to the nuclear group because Frédéric Lemoine, head of the surveillance committee after Pontet, is one of its senior advisers.” (from “Refonte de la filière nucléaire: l’Elysée presse le pas”, Les Echos, September 11 2007)
Commenting on this anonymously for Le Canard, an “inspecteur des finance” (this is an elite body of civil servants specialized in financial auditing) says:
“We are going straight towards a scandal. How can we justify the fact that top civil servants gone hanging around in banks and top state auditors turned into administrators of a major state company are found actually in charge of evaluating the privatization of this company?” (from “Le nucléaire en famille”, Le Canard Enchaîné, September 19 2007)
In the press, this is of course related to the prospect that Martin Bouygues, one of Sarkozy’s best friends, is going to buy it. It is also a cool update of France’s national radioactivity — and would have probably served well as an epilogue to Gabrielle Hecht‘s great book The Radiance of France.