June 16, 2013 / 8:50 PM / 5 years ago

Hollande rules out early France Telecom, GDF share sales

PARIS (Reuters) - French President Francois Hollande on Sunday ruled out an early sale of any state holdings in France Telecom FTE.PA or utility GDF Suez GSZ.PA, saying market valuations were too low.

“For France Telecom or GDF Suez, we are not selling because we consider that the share price is not high enough,” Hollande told M6 television in an interview.

The French state holds a 27 percent stake in France Telecom and 36.7 percent of gas utility GDF Suez.

It also has 84.4 percent in utility EDF and other holdings which put the total value of its stakes at around 55 billion euros, despite significant market falls in recent years.

Hollande said he could sell shares in other companies, however, to fund investments in technology and innovation.

“Each time that we can reduce a holding to get additional revenue — on the condition that these extra revenues are not spent on paying operating costs or government employees — these revenues will go to investments for the future,” Hollande said.

Government ministers including Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg have raised the prospect of trimming state holdings with the aim of raising around four billion euros.

In March, France raised nearly half a billion euros from the sale of a 3.12 percent stake in aerospace group Safran (SAF.PA) with a view to inject the funds into small businesses. The sale left the state with 27 percent in the firm.

Reporting by Michel Rose; editing by Mark John

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