Bpifrance stays on course for growth
Barely reappointed on February 8 to the general management of Bpifrance, Nicolas Dufourcq presented Thursday, February 16 in the morning, the report on the activity of the public investment bank in 2022. An entire report summed up by the words growth and commitment.
The manager who is back for five at the head of the financial establishment, a position he has held since the creation of the bank in 2013, places his mandate under the sign of a triple commitment: “decarbonize the productive fabric”, “reindustrialize “France and “restore foreign trade”.
A strategy already rolled out in 2022 through the various fields of action of an “efficient” and “general interest” financial institution, entirely centered on the development of companies, underlines Nicolas Dufourcq who insists on the dual vocation of Bpifrance , to be both the bank for innovation and for industry. A bank which injected some 67 billion euros into the financing of the French economy last year, generating a net result of 1.5 billion euros (compared to 2.2 billion in 2021), coming for the essential part of the portfolios of Bpifrance Participations (€1.3 billion).
Through its eight business lines – financing, guarantee, innovation financing, direct investment and investment in funds of funds, international, support and creation – the bank, which weighs on average only 10 to 20% in terms of market on each of its activities, has an enormous leverage effect on the French economy. “With this, we move everyone”, welcomes Nicolas Dufourcq.
Financing for 7,500 businesses
A leverage effect that translates into figures, foremost among which is the marked growth (+11%) in the medium and long-term financing of 7,500 companies, SMEs and ETIs, with 9 billion euros in loans. Aid deployed through the Climate plan, which aims to support the decarbonization of companies: 6 billion euros earmarked for the ecological and energy transition of companies, including 1.1 billion euros in green loans aimed at financing the transition 980 companies in 2022 and 1.2 billion loans to finance 120 renewable energy projects.
Dynamic also in short-term financing (+15%) at 8 billion euros, guaranteed loans (+15%) and above all in innovation financing at 4.5 billion euros. An action carried out with different tools: deployment of the France 2030 Plan, the Deeptech Plan, launch of the Start-up Plan and industrial SMEs. In total, 6,450 companies have thus benefited from support from Bpifrance, in the form of grants, R&D aid, loans, etc.
Nicolas Dufourcq reaffirms in this respect the ambition of the public bank to see the emergence of 500 deeptech start-ups per year in France, the first step in a real industrial renaissance with the construction of 100 factories each year. Because when a product has been invented, then it must be manufactured and if possible in France hammers the banker who bets for this in particular on the new National Industrial Venture Fund (FNVI) which will finance private funds which themselves will invest in industrial start-ups.
Finally, Bpifrance operates in the French economy with its direct equity investment activity (Innovation capital, Development capital in SMEs, ETIs and large groups) and investment in funds of funds. In total, in 2022, equity investment activity increased by 11% with more than 4.8 billion euros deployed, including 726 million for innovation capital and 2.5 billion for development capital, while that the fund of funds business injected more than 1.6 billion euros into 87 private investment funds.
On the disposal side, the public bank set a new record at 2.3 billion euros (+6% compared to 2021) on all components of development capital (Small, Mid and Large cap).
Restart the export
The only downside is the financing of French companies abroad. Admittedly, Bpifrance recorded a 58% increase in its export activity in 2022 to 32 billion euros, mainly in credit insurance for large military contracts, but the dynamism of French companies outside our borders is very insufficient. Nicolas Dufourcq sees proof of this in the record deficit of French foreign trade in 2022 (€164 billion on goods, reduced to €53 billion once the balance of income and that of services, which are in surplus, are taken into account).
With 80% market share in export credit for SMEs (€111 million in 2022, more than €300 million expected this year and an annual target of €500 million), Bpifrance is legitimate to drive home the point of French insufficiency to export. “In China, the Germans are everywhere and the French are not there, regrets Nicolas Dufourcq. There is a huge cultural subject that is part of Bpifrance’s roadmap and we will have to make proposals to put SMEs and French ETIs on the way to the international market.”