Photonis specializes in night vision technology -
Based in Mérignac near Bordeaux (Gironde), Photonis works for the aeronautics, research and defense sectors.
With around 1,000 employees, it produces light intensification elements used in night vision binoculars and instruments used by the Megajoule Laser, a site of the French Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) intended to test by simulation of nuclear explosions.
Can such a company pass under the American flag?
This is what worries elected officials, who stressed on Tuesday the risks associated with a takeover of the ailing company by the American engineering group Teledyne.
In a letter addressed to the Prime Minister, they suggest a state participation to save it.
A takeover by Teledyne "poses the risk of aspiration of the know-how of Photonis"
The "control" of Photonis, a company specializing in photodetection, "is highly strategic", underline in the letter the deputy LR Julien Aubert as well as seven parliamentarians and former parliamentarians.
A takeover by Teledyne "poses the risk of an aspiration of the technological know-how of Photonis, moreover without guarantees of maintaining local employment", they denounce.
For the authors of this letter, the government should intervene to save Photonis as part of the recovery plan.
The State could "take control of Photonis with a financial participation amounting to at least 425 million euros as part of the stimulus plan mission of the finance bill", they describe.
In general, these parliamentarians believe that it would be necessary to create "a sovereign strategic defense fund (...) capable of financially supporting all the companies in our industrial and technological defense base".
Bruno The mayor wants photonis to remain in French hands
Teledyne withdrew an initial takeover offer at the end of September, but then made it known that it was not giving up on acquiring Photonis, owned by the Ardian fund.
The negotiations which are continuing allow him to hope for an acquisition "at a valuation level lower than 15% of what was negotiated at the start, that is to say 425 million euros", report the parliamentarians.
The French government is closely monitoring this file via the mechanism for controlling foreign investments in France, thanks to which it can prevent the takeover of a French company by a foreign actor if it is of strategic interest to the country.
In the spring, the Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire had expressed his opposition to this takeover by the American group, hoping that Photonis would remain in French hands.
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