Économie et Statistique n° 363-364-365 - Firms on The Global Markets Labour Market - Attractiveness - Debt - Enlargement toward East en South
Internationalisation and debt among large French groups in the late 1990s
Certain large French groups strengthened their internationalisation with new acquisitions of foreign companies at the end of the last decade. However, this also raised their level of debt. Although their weight in the French economy was such that their borrowing weighed on the average debt of non-financial firms, their situation cannot be considered to be symptomatic of the entire French economy. For example, independent firms have been slowly reducing their debt load since 1993. These acquisitions, often made when stock exchange prices were at their highest, weakened these groups due to substantial goodwill. The amortisation of this goodwill contributed to the deterioration in their return on equity in 2001. The debt is concentrated among a group of companies the control pole whose resources are essentially financial. The other companies the productive base of these large groups indirectly bear the weight of the debt via the distribution of dividends following the formation of an internal capital market.