France and the Netherlands will work together to strengthen the Air France-KLM airline. This was announced this Friday in Paris by French finance ministers, Bruno Le Maire, and his Dutch finance colleague, Wopke Hoekstra, summoned urgently to the French capital after the unexpected acquisition by the Dutch government this week of 14% of the capital of the European airline, something that caused a strong discomfort in the French executive, who quickly requested explanations to The Hague.
The surprising way in which the Netherlands took the capital of Air France-KLM "is not orthodox," Hoekstra acknowledged in a brief appearance after the meeting held early in Bercy, headquarters of the French Ministry of Economy. A few words that seemed to appease his French colleague, who only 48 hours earlier had described as "incomprehensible" and "unexpected" the Dutch maneuver, carried out with great secrecy and with which The Hague is placed in almost the same position as the French State , which has 14.3% of the capital of the Franco-Dutch company.
Once the "explanations" have been received, France seems ready to turn the page and look for a way to collaborate so that the European airline becomes "the most successful airline in the world," said Le Maire.
The formula found, they said in a joint statement, is "to launch a process with the aim of transforming and reinforcing their understanding of the future of the company." A working group led by Martin Vial, general director of the French Agency of State Participations (APE), and Christian Rebergen, treasurer general of the Dutch Ministry of Finance, will study how to "strengthen cooperation between France and the Netherlands" to achieve "Good governance of the group, its development, its growth and the improvement of its results" in a "very competitive" market such as the airlines.
For this, they will examine the shareholding of both countries in Air France-KLM and the capital structure of the airline. They will also review the rules of governance and "the respect, by the two governments, of the rules of good conduct."
And although they have "reaffirmed" their support to the president of the company, the Canadian Ben Smith, and his recent decisions, as well as to the top executives of Air France-KLM, on the table will also be the question of the composition of the board of directors and the "respective visions of the long-term strategy deployed by management" for the group.
France and the Netherlands will also discuss how to better defend the interests of their two main airports, the Parisian Roissy-Charles de Gaulle and the Dutch Schipol.
"The final result must be fair and balanced for all parties," underline the ministers, who also affirm their commitment to achieve a definitive solution "before the end of June 2019."