Hollande cozies up to entrepreneurs


President Francois Hollande on Monday announced a series of measures aimed at winning back the confidence of small-business owners needed to kick-start the country’s struggling economy.

Speaking to a group of 300 entrepreneurs in Paris, Hollande also laid out proposals to attract foreign investment into a country threatened with recession and suffering from dogged unemployment, and to help French firms expand abroad.

The most-awaited reform concerned the capital gains tax on sales of company stakes or entire firms, which the government had wanted to hike as part of plans to reduce the public deficit, before backtracking last year amid a revolt by entrepreneurs.

Hollande said business owners will still have to pay the tax but will be able to get up to 85 percent exemptions if they had owned or held a stake for at least eight years, or smaller rebates for shorter periods.

He also announced a new “entrepreneur visa” to be created for foreigners seeking to set up an innovative startup in the country if they invest a “sufficient amount” of money.