Most important French companies

1. December 2011

There are multiple ways to rate major companies. For this discussion companies were chosen that were rated by Fortune, Forbes and Most Admired. A few words introduce the company followed by pertinent facts that highlight their uniqueness.

Aerospace. The Thales Group is a powerhouse in defense and security. It operates in 50 countries and has 68,000 employees. Much of their success is based on their group of 22,500 researchers. This has led to such projects as the exploration of Mars, producing the first true multi-band, multimode Land Mobile Radio and erecting a crystal building near Lisbon, Portugal.

The Thales business philosophy is unique in that it establishes deep- rooted relationships with their clients based on the cultural traditions of that particular country. With most of their work in defense and security, it is important to maintain delicate and often secret information.

Airlines. You’ve probably seen the seahorse logo on the nose of Air France planes. Headquartered at Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport, it touts the largest in world revenues. Worldwide market share is about 25%. It is best known for the supersonic Concorde that flew until 2003.

Airline customers are always looking for good food and comfort. Where flyers cling to the usual bag of peanuts, business class customers were offered snacks and drinks, even champagne. They also had ice cream, toys and chocolates.

Personal Products. France originated perfume and since has led the world in the search for natural beauty. L’oreal is world renown in the area of personal care products. The L’oreal philosophy is to enhance a person’s natural beauty and unique personality. Their flagship product is L’Oreal Paris for skin and beauty care. Two well- known brands are Maybeline and Ralph Lauren. If you are looking for a special experience, try Vichy.

Banking. If you want to play in the big leagues, go to BNP Paribas, a banking powerhouse, not only in Europe but globally. Rated AAA by Standard and Poor’s, it operates in 80 countries and has almost 200,000 employees. Its philosophy focuses on responsiveness, creativity, commitment and ambition. Its trading operations are awesome covering equities, bonds, commodities and all manner of derivatives.

Telecom. In France the color is orange, orange for France Telecom. The third largest in Europe, it offers the standard broadband and mobile to 221 million customers. You can download an orange app on your smartphone. In Europe, tablets are in demand over TV and PCs. a wake up call for all telecoms.

Networks. Alcatel-Lucent is a world leader in networking, operating in 130 countries. Partner Lucent was part of Bell Labs and brings strong research leadership to the company. It holds 27,900 patents. They are chasing the future in worldwide wireless communication, cloud computing and the Internet of things. It is estimated that 15 billion devices will be connected by 2015.

Vehicle Parts. You know the Michelin Man. He’s the man you can trust. This is the Michelin motto. Michelin makes tires for all manner of vehicles and is a worldwide leader. Their tires are noted for durability and high performance. It has partnerships with BMW, Corvette, Porche and Cadillac.

Motor Vehicles. Not that well known in the US, Renault is the fourth largest car franchise behind GM, Toyota and Ford. It has a partnership with Nissan to build an electric car. In a newly formed partnership with Mercedes Benz, Renault will use the Mercedes 2.0 engine in some of its vehicles. Its Kangoo ZE van won the International Van of the Year for 2012.

Pharmaceuticals. Sanofi-Aventis has a strong footprint in Europe and is the world’s fourth largest by prescriptions. Since 1718 when its first laboratory was started, the company has grown to be a world leader in health care products, generics and animal health. Much of their research centers on diabetes and cancer, providing therapies, devices and services in these areas.

Industrial Equipment. If its power generation, Alstrom is a big player in building plants for coal, gas, nuclear, fuel oil, hydropower and wind. Currently it is set to build high- speed rail in the UK and has opened a wind turbine plant in Brazil.

From these brief snippets, we see that France is a leader in every industry category. These companies provide hundreds of thousands of jobs.

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