Zut alors: French minister rattled

SHOCKED French industry minister Arnaud Montebourg has put pen to paper and sent a spluttering response to US tyre firm Titan’s boss Maurice Taylor in defence of France’s “favourable way of life”.

In Taylor’s letter, which The Capitalist reported on yesterday, he declined an offer to buy a French tyre factory, criticising French workers for taking long lunches and only working three hours a day.

There were certainly no bisous on Montebourg’s response: “Can I also remind you that Titan...is 20 times smaller than Michelin, our French technological leader of international standing, and 35 times less profitable?” Montebourg says, apparently immune to Taylor’s warning that “in five years, Michelin won’t be able to produce tyres in France” and that China will be making all the running.

Rather ominously, Montebourg also weighs in on American politics: “You will also find that our current policy bears a similar relationship to that inspired by your President.”

Finally the French minister closes with a hint at greater protectionism: “Rest assured you can count on me to keep a close eye on the services provided by the French government, and with an increased zeal on your imported tyres.” Nice to see the traditional Gallic art of letter-writing hasn’t been lost after all, even as France’s reputation among the global business community hits new lows.

The Capitalist learns that broker John Rees is going to showcase his rather unusual talent to colleagues next month at The Troxy. Rees, who works for Nordic investment bank Carnegie, enjoys a spot of cage-fighting in his spare time. Rees says his bosses are extremely supportive of his extra-curricular activities: “No office normally allows people to come to work with black eyes.” The Capitalist hears that some of his colleagues will even be jetting in from Sweden on 2 March, just to watch the 32 year-old step into the cage. Given that he’s only trained for ten weeks, The Capitalist wishes Rees the best of luck.