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Jean-Francois Cirelli, in the center, the boss of BlackRock France. Francois Guillot / AFP

The controversy swells in France about the presentation of the Legion of Honor to Jean-François Cirelli, who reacted to it. He is the boss of the French branch of the BlackRock group, the largest investment fund in the world.

The president of the asset manager BlackRock France, Jean-François Cirelli, regretted Thursday December 2 to be " taken to part in an unfounded controversy ", after the critics of the opposition about his promotion in order the Legion of honor in the midst of a social conflict over pensions. " Personally, I regret being taken to task in a totally unfounded controversy, manifestly driven by political objectives ," he said.

To raise the controversy, the socialist Olivier Faure knows it, nothing like repeating a well-known expression from the Star Wars cinematic saga: " BlackRock is the dark side of pension reform ".

BlackRock is accused of pushing for the implementation of retirement " by capitalization ", the fact of contributing to his retirement by saving, while the French system is based on distribution. Workers' contributions pay pensions for retirees. The juggernaut of finance - whose boss has been received several times at the Élysée Palace - is perceived by the CGT and the left as the Trojan horse of retirement by capitalization.

BlackRock is bullied in protests

Become a symbol, the name of BlackRock is now mocked in the demonstrations. Giving the Legion of Honor to his French boss would be proof that Emmanuel Macron would like to " destroy social conquests ", says La France rebellious. " Jean-François Cirelli has had a long career in the public and led the GDF Suez group for 10 years ," said the government. A minister assures her: her distinction and the ongoing discussions on the reform are " pure coincidence "!

Jean-François Cirelli, 61, was economic advisor to President Jacques Chirac from 1995 to 2002, then deputy director of Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin's office from 2002 to mid-2004.

Present in France since 2006, the American BlackRock is considered to be the largest independent asset manager in the world. As of September 30, 2019, the group born in 1988 managed nearly $ 6.96 trillion in assets on behalf of investors worldwide. Some 180 people are employed in France by BlackRock and as of September 30, the group managed 27.4 billion euros on behalf of French customers.

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