January 19, 2022

Bouygues successfully completes 2 billion bond issue Income Tax

Browse an unrivalled portfolio of real-time and historical market data and insights from worldwide sources and experts. Some French media outlets have reported in recent months that the company could face restrictions in several cities. France is in the early stages of rolling out its next-generation wireless technology, and the government’s stance over Huawei’s possible role still lacks clarity, according to some telecoms industry trade bodies. Day after day, Bouygues Telecom offers its 20.5 million customers easy and full access to the best that digital technology has to offer, whether at home, with innovative Bbox routers, or on the move, thanks to a 4G mobile network which covers 99% of the population. Rishi Sunak backers have claimed they warned that “Trussonomics” would cause market turmoil amid the aftermath of Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-Budget. The medical examiner’s office said it could not determine the manner of Yewdall’s death, and a police investigation has yielded no arrests.

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The declaration of 12 July 2002 therefore produced an impact on the December 2002 measures, and all the events subsequent to July 2002 occurred in a market context ‘contaminated’ by that declaration. In that regard, the French Republic wrongly claims that its contacts, as FT’s majority shareholder, with the rating agencies are not unusual. In the light of the size of FT’s debt and in the absence of clear and complete information on FT’s economic situation, a majority private shareholder would not have made such declarations of support for FT in the same circumstances . In the view of the Commission, for that reason, the declarations from July 2002 and the contacts made with the rating agencies ‘contaminated’ the market situation, with the result that, at the time of the announcement, in December 2002, of the shareholder loan proposal, that announcement could not be considered to have been made under normal market conditions. That ‘pollution’ effect was not eliminated by other events which influenced the market’s perception after July 2002 .

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192In the view of the Commission, the French State’s decision to support FT had been taken as of 12 July 2002, although the details of its commitment were not yet specified at that time. The declaration of 12 July 2002 formed part of a ‘credible strategy of commitment by the State to support ’ and was perceived as such by the markets (recital 220 et seq. of the contested decision). A literal analysis of that declaration and of its context shows that that commitment was clear and that it was, moreover, repeated , in particular vis-à-vis the rating agencies.

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This video explains how you can streamline your reporting to increase utilisation and adopt better governance by optimising content and server management. 340In accordance with the first subparagraph of Article 87 of the Rules of Procedure, the French Republic shall bear its own costs. 339Since there is no need to adjudicate on the claim for annulment of Article 2 of the contested decision, AFORS and the Commission must be ordered to bear their own costs.

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Thirdly, in recital 40 of the Crédit Foncier decision, the Commission drew attention to the need to take account of the effects of support measures and that, in that regard, ‘by reassuring creditors as to the quality of their claims, the statement in question had the effect of averting demand for reimbursement of CFF securities during a serious liquidity crisis, at a time when the institution was unable to obtain finance on the market on normal terms’. Finally, recital 44 of the Crédit Foncier decision, according to which ‘he Commission takes the view that, although the statement issued by the Minister in April 1996 was not legally formalised, it nevertheless had substantial effects and should therefore be deemed equivalent to a guarantee’, is perfectly a guide to network troubleshooting applicable to FT’s case. The Bouygues companies admit, however, that, unlike the press release of the Minister for Economic Affairs at issue in the Crédit Foncier decision, the declarations from July 2002 did not include the word ‘commitment’. Nevertheless, the commitment may result from the words used, from their firmness and from their repetition, as is the case in those declarations. 63However, ‘it would appear’ that, if the investment decisions in question are examined in the context of the situation prior to July 2002, that is to say, in the light of the financial and confidence crisis affecting FT at that time and in the absence of any measures and declarations by the French authorities, they do not satisfy the prudent private investor test .

10At FT’s board meeting of 4 December 2002, the new management of FT presented an action plan entitled ‘Ambition FT 2005’ (‘the Ambition 2005 plan’) aimed essentially at rebalancing FT’s balance sheet by strengthening its capital base to the amount of EUR 15 billion. 6On 12 September 2002, the French authorities announced publicly that they had accepted the resignation of FT’s chief executive officer (‘FT’s former CEO’). Reuters, the news and media division of Thomson Reuters, is the world’s largest multimedia news provider, reaching billions of people worldwide every day. Reuters provides business, financial, national and international news to professionals via desktop terminals, the world’s media organizations, industry events and directly to consumers. The project is currently centred on the work performed on street cabinets and equipment at the edge of the access network.

Consequently, the question whether or not the declarations from July 2002 constituted aid is no longer relevant, since, by the time those declarations were given concrete expression in December 2002, in the form of the shareholder loan proposal, it was established, on the one hand, that the commitment had now become irrevocable and, on the other hand, that it did not satisfy the private investor criterion, in view of the fact that it was no longer taking place under normal market conditions. 194As to whether the declaration of 12 July 2002 had an impact on the market situation in December 2002, the Commission refers to its arguments set out in its response to the first and second pleas of the French Republic and FT. The main consequence of that declaration was that, until December 2002, FT’s rating was able to be maintained at investment grade instead of being downgraded to that of a junk bond. In September 2002, the French State reiterated its support for FT, with the result that Moody’s changed the outlook of FT’s debt from negative to stable . In December 2002, S & P repeated that the French State’s support since July 2002 was a key factor in maintaining the rating at investment grade . Had its rating not been maintained at that grade in July 2002, the strengthening of FT’s capital base, an essential component of the Ambition 2005 plan, could not have been achieved on the same terms.

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MCO and Moody’s investors Service also maintain policies and procedures to address the independence of Moody’s Investors Service credit ratings and credit rating processes. Information regarding certain affiliations that may exist between directors of MCO and rated entities, and between entities who hold credit ratings from Moody’s Investors Service and have also publicly reported to the SEC an ownership interest in MCO of more than 5%, is posted annually at under the heading “Investor Relations — Corporate Governance — Director and Shareholder Affiliation Policy.” 309Consequently, even though it was permissible for the Commission to take account of all the events which preceded and influenced the final decision taken by the French State in December 2002 to support FT by means of a shareholder loan in order to characterise an advantage, it failed to demonstrate the existence of a transfer of State resources connected to that advantage. As was held in paragraph 297 above, the fact that the declarations from July 2002 and the announcement of 4 December 2002 resulted in an advantage for FT inasmuch as they restored the confidence of the financial markets and improved the terms of its refinancing is not offset by a corresponding reduction of the State budget or a sufficiently concrete economic risk of burdens on that budget.

  • The Commission adds that, under the private investor criterion, earlier aid forming part of a continuing process could, in principle, both be penalised on its own account and be taken into account in order to establish subsequent aid which, in the light of that earlier aid, has only the appearance of an act which could have been carried out by a prudent private investor.
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  • 207In the alternative, the Commission disputes that the declaration of 12 July 2002 would have been made by any majority private shareholder and that it was so general and conditional that it cannot be interpreted as a guarantee to support FT.
  • And the great majority of them — 78% according to a recent GMB report — are from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, while three out of every five are from migrant backgrounds.

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Even in the absence of a legally binding commitment, that financial risk for the French State is equivalent to a commitment of State resources. The Bouygues companies point out that any public declaration by a member of the Government in favour of a company does not constitute State aid per se, but must be assessed by reference to its wording, its context and the circumstances of the particular case. In this case, in view of the precision of the declarations in question and of the importance of FT, of its capacity as the historical operator and of the exceptional gravity of its financial situation, the declarations in question assumed a particular significance, equivalent to a guarantee granted by the French State. In so doing, instead of committing, directly or indirectly, State resources within the meaning of Article 87 EC, the French State made use of the particular rules by which the financial markets operate in order to stabilise FT’s economic position in the short term, specifically with the aim of satisfying the entrepreneurial and financial conditions necessary for the adoption of more concrete measures of support which would have to be taken subsequently. The mere fact that, in such a context, the French State used its particular reputation with the financial markets cannot suffice to demonstrate that its resources were exposed to a risk such as can be considered to constitute a transfer of State resources within the meaning of Article 87 EC, which is sufficiently linked to the advantage conferred on FT by the declarations from July 2002. 144In the view of FT, the Commission made a manifest error of assessment in considering that it was necessary to determine whether the advantage conferred by the shareholder loan proposal satisfied the prudent private investor criterion, even though it acknowledged that that proposal as such did not confer any advantage on FT .

If it were otherwise, even a loan contract containing objectively disadvantageous terms, such as higher interest rates and stricter repayment terms than those offered by the market, would have to be characterised as an advantage as referred to in Article 87 EC, and this merely on the ground that a public creditor declared itself prepared to make a certain sum available to the beneficiary. 322The Bouygues companies do not put forward any evidence to show that the statement of reasons in the contested decision does not enable them to ascertain and understand the scope of the reasons underlying that finding by the Commission and to challenge its validity before the Court and that the latter is not able to exercise its power of review of legality in that regard. In particular, the Bouygues companies cannot legitimately claim that the Commission did not give a satisfactory statement of reasons for its finding that the declarations from July 2002 did not involve a transfer of State resources despite the various legal studies produced during the administrative procedure, which came to the opposite view, since those reasons are set out, in particular, in recitals 214 to 219 of that decision. 318Consequently, even though the Commission’s overall approach is erroneous as to the substance, it follows from the considerations in paragraph 268 et seq. Above that the contested decision sets out to the required legal standard the reasons why the Commission was of the opinion that it could not find that the declarations from July 2002 as such – even though they involved the conferment of an advantage on FT – gave rise to a transfer of State resources. It also follows that the Bouygues companies’ argument that the Commission found, in the contested decision, that all the conditions characterising State aid were satisfied as regards the declarations from July is manifestly unfounded.

207In the alternative, the Commission disputes that the declaration of 12 July 2002 would have been made by any majority private shareholder and that it was so general and conditional that it cannot be interpreted as a guarantee to support FT. The Commission pointed out that it was decisive for the French State to give the impression to the rating agencies and to the financial markets that the declaration of 12 July 2002 constituted a binding commitment. That declaration, accompanied by direct contacts between the French authorities and the rating agencies, was clearly intended to reassure the markets and to prevent a downgrading of the rating of FT’s bonds to that of junk bonds, which is confirmed by the increase in the price of FT’s shares and bonds after that declaration. The fact of the matter is that that commitment was not made conditional on compliance with the Community rules on State aid . Finally, the Commission rejects the argument that the declaration of 12 July 2002 did not confer any advantage on FT. The advantage resulting from that declaration consisted in maintaining FT’s investment‑grade rating until December 2002 instead of its rating being downgraded to that of a junk bond (recital 219 et seq. of that decision).

Moody’s could upgrade Bouygues’ rating if, on a sustained basis, it recorded Moody’s-adjusted FFO/debt of more than 35% and Moody’s-adjusted FCF/debt in excess of 5%. A positive rating action would also require a further enhancement of the group’s business risk profile and resilience to shocks in any of its major businesses. Bouygues’ A3 rating reflects the group’s large scale; its position as one of Europe’s leading and most diversified construction groups; broadly conservative financial policy in recent years; and strong liquidity. By clicking “I AGREE”, you indicate that you understand and intend these terms and conditions to be the legal equivalent of a signed, written contract and equally binding, and that you accept such terms and conditions as a condition of viewing any and all Moody’s information that becomes accessible to you (the “Information”). By illustrating the shift from the old behavior patterns to the new set of behaviors required (from … to), Krauthammer laid the foundation for the design concept of the program. At the same time, Bouygues’ rating is constrained by the coronavirus epidemic, which will weigh on earnings and cash flows in 2020, notably on the company’s construction and media activities; the company’s exposure to cyclical industries, mainly through its construction activities which carry low margins; its relative geographic concentration, with around 58% of its revenues derived in France; and its exposure to the highly competitive French telecom sector, which is capital intensive.

  • Consequently, firm, clear and precise declarations made by the State are in all cases such as to render the State liable, whether because, in granting a promise, it has created legal obligations on its part, of which it cannot rid itself without committing a fault, since, for it, the mere fact of not keeping its promise is sufficient to render it liable or because, on the contrary, in granting a promise, the State has committed itself unlawfully.
  • The explanatory note further recognises that the State guarantee may result, in particular, from a ‘ministerial letter or any other basis’ and that guarantees which may have been granted without a valid legal basis may nevertheless ‘create rights for their beneficiaries’.
  • If the Bouygues companies’ application for annulment of Article 1 of the contested decision were deemed to be well founded, the Court could not rule on their application for annulment of Article 2 of that decision.
  • 41Recital 248 of the contested decision states that, at a hearing on 5 December 2002 before the French Senate’s Finance Committee, [FT’s new CEO] stated that, ‘faced with huge debts, did not seem to have woken up to the fact that its credit rating was being downgraded, that it no longer had access to the capital markets’.

165According to the Bouygues companies, in the light of their intrinsic characteristics, each of the declarations from July 2002 constitutes a commitment on the part of the French State. Similarly, those declarations were regarded by the market as being precise and unconditional and as embodying a credible and genuine commitment on the part of the French State, which lay behind the resolution of FT’s financial crisis. Under the principles applicable in French law, if the French State had not honoured those commitments, it could have exposed itself to actions for damages on the part of any third party establishing a legal interest in bringing proceedings, whether it be FT’s shareholders, its employees or its creditors. That reason alone is sufficient for it to be considered that the declarations from July 2002 in themselves committed State resources.

226Accordingly, in recital 194 of the contested decision, it is found that ‘the shareholder loan … confers an advantage on as it enables it to increase its means of financing and to reassure the market as to its capacity to meet its maturities’. Notwithstanding the fact that the shareholder loan contract was never signed by FT, ‘the appearance given to the axitrader vs vantage fx who is better in 2021 market of the existence of such a loan’ was likely to confer an advantage on FT as the market considered its financial situation to be more secure, which may have influenced its borrowing terms. 184The approach described above is summarised in recital 191 and is reflected in particular in the chronological account of the facts in recitals 20 et seq.

In any event, the declarations of support cannot be characterised as a firm commitment on the part of the French State granting an advantage to FT and involving State resources. 166Even in the absence of binding force from the commitment resulting from the declarations from July 2002 under French law, those declarations commit State resources, since that concept is to be widely interpreted. The French State was de facto obliged to honour its promise, in view of the real expectation which its declarations had created from the point of view of the market . Failure to honour that promise would have given rise for the French State, in its capacity as an owner and manager of companies, as a major economic operator and as a major borrower on the financial markets, to a cost much higher still on account of the loss of its credibility and reputation on those markets .

Cours de Bourse et Rendement de l’action Bouygues (BOUYGUES CONSTRUCTION)

From a material point of view, there was no legal reason to limit the examination of the relevant facts to the facts which the French State had decided to mention in the notification. It followed that, if the Commission had knowledge of earlier facts which were objectively relevant, it must include them in its analysis . The Commission added that it had indicated, in recital 70 of and footnote 40 to the opening decision, that the declarations from July 2002 might constitute factors which must be taken into account in its investigation .