French Senate Pushes for Golden Share in TotalEnergies

Urging Increased Government Control Over Key Energy Company  

by Victor Adetimilehin

The French Senate has proposed that the government acquire a strategic “golden share” in TotalEnergies, signaling a potential significant shift in how France ensures corporate alignment with its national and environmental policies. This recommendation emerges from a comprehensive review aimed at assessing TotalEnergies’ commitment to France’s climate goals and maintaining its base within the country.

Strategic Intervention for National Interests

In a detailed report released after nearly six months of rigorous evaluations, a special commission led by Green Party Senator Yannick Jadot suggested that the government’s acquisition of a golden share in TotalEnergies would empower it to influence crucial strategic decisions. This includes preventing any potential relocation of the company’s primary operations to the United States, a concern sparked by CEO Patrick Pouyanné’s remarks on exploring a primary listing in New York due to an expanding U.S. investor base. This move, according to the Senate, would ensure that TotalEnergies remains a French entity, deeply involved in the nation’s energy transition towards greener practices.

The commission ultimately rejected the idea of the government purchasing a 5% stake in TotalEnergies, which would cost around 7 billion euros. This decision was influenced by financial constraints and the potential backlash from current investors wary of increased state involvement. Furthermore, the Senate’s recommendations extend beyond corporate governance, urging France to cease importing Russian liquefied natural gas. TotalEnergies, which holds a 19.4% stake in the Russian producer Novatek, would be directly affected. Additionally, the report opposes the European Commission’s consideration of natural gas imports from Azerbaijan, citing France’s alliance with Armenia and the need for a coherent foreign policy that aligns with its environmental commitments.

The Road Ahead

With France’s snap elections looming, the future of the Senate’s recommendations remains uncertain. The proposal to secure a golden share in TotalEnergies underscores a broader dialogue about the role of national governments in regulating major corporations, especially in sectors vital to national security and environmental sustainability. The outcomes of these elections could significantly influence the implementation of these recommendations and, by extension, the strategic direction of TotalEnergies and its compliance with France’s climate objectives.

Source: Reuters

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