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France launches 4-billion-euro support plan for start-ups - minister

Global Forum on Artificial Intelligence for Humanity (GFAIH) in Paris

PARIS (Reuters) - France will roll out a 4 billion euro (3.65 billion pounds) liquidity support plan for start-ups in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, junior minister Cédric O said on Wednesday.

Investments in early stage digital companies have boomed in France in recent years, helped by tax cuts and business-friendly measures put in place by President Emmanuel Macron, who has vowed to turn the country into a "start-up nation".

"We're announcing a specific plan to support the liquidity of start-ups," O told French radio station Radio Classique. "In total it will be a plan for 4 billion (euros)."

The money injected by venture capital funds into French start-ups jumped 30% over the first three quarters of 2019 from a year earlier to 3.9 billion euros, according Dealroom, a data provider.

The French government's liquidity plan for start-ups includes a short-term refinancing scheme (160 million euros), the early payment of some tax credits (1.5 billion), the accelerated payment of already-planned investments in the sector (250 million) and guarantees over cash flow costs (2 billion).

"Given the global economic situation, there's a risk that some investors may become wary," O said, adding that he would meet some venture capital funds this week in a bid to shore up their support for French startups.



(Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain, Editing by Dominique Vidalon and Andrew Heavens)