Exports of soft wheat jumped to 1.78 million metric tons in the month from 1.45 million tons in August 2012, trade data published by the government today showed. Shipments more than doubled from 828,526 tons in July. France exported 17.1 million tons of soft wheat in 2012-13 as well as 1.59 million tons of the harder durum variety used to make pasta and couscous. That made the country the worlds fourth-biggest wheat shipper behind the U.S., Australia and Canada , based on International Grains Council estimates. Algeria was the biggest client for French soft wheat in August, with deliveries rising 39 percent to 728,140 tons. That was the biggest monthly volume shipped to the North African country since at least 1988, Eurostat data show. Algeria is Africas second-largest wheat importer behind Egypt , according to the IGC. Soft-wheat exports to Belgium , Frances second-biggest destination in August, rose 2 percent to 130,419 tons, while shipments to the U.K. surged 79 percent to 83,647 tons. Durum wheat shipments were little changed from a year earlier at 88,835 tons, barley exports dropped 11 percent to 486,718 tons and corn cargoes rose 7.4 percent to 435,429 tons. To contact the reporter on this story: Rudy Ruitenberg in Paris at rruitenberg@bloomberg.net To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Carpenter at ccarpenter2@bloomberg.net

France calls on Alcatel-Lucent to review plan for mass job cuts

The stock has almost tripled in value this year on buyers’ hopes that Combes, a former chief executive of Vodafone Europe, can rescue the business. “The group is eating up a lot of cash and is unable to enhance its profitability, so some kind of change was needed to make sure it has a long-term future,” said one Paris-based financial analyst who declined to be named. The group, which employs 72,000 staff worldwide and competes with larger rivals Ericsson of Sweden, China’s Huawei and Finland’s Nokia, has posted five straight quarters of net losses. Altogether, 4,100 posts will go in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, 3,800 in Asia Pacific, and 2,100 in the Americas. France’s CFDT union said it would fight a plan that entailed cuts to about 15,000 posts, although 5,000 new jobs will be created, giving the overall loss of 10,000. Nine hundred jobs would go in France, with the closure or disposal of five sites. “The CFDT is aware of the seriousness of the situation and deplores this,” it said in a statement. “But once again it is the staff that are paying the price … We will fight this plan and make proposals to change it.” The union said Alcatel was planning to close its sites in the French cities of Rennes and Toulouse quickly, and sell its Eu, Ormes and Orvault sites by the end of 2015. France’s left-leaning industry minister Arnaud Montebourg Montebourg, who has led a campaign for French consumers and companies to buy home-grown products, said the loss of hundreds of French jobs was “excessive.” He called on the country’s network providers to help the firm by favouring its products over those of cheaper rivals, and asked Alcatel-Lucent to review its cost-cutting plans with trade unions. “We have asked management to revise the restructuring plan downwards,” he told parliament. “We can’t keep on paying the price of their errors.” But other sources in President Francois Hollande’s Socialist government, which has watched Alcatel-Lucent’s problems closely as it battles rising unemployment in France, emphasised that the plan was an attempt to get the group growing. SPECULATION The Alcatel-Lucent merger was an attempt to pool resources but any savings were lost due to fierce price competition in the sector and as slow economies, particularly in Europe, dented demand for telecom equipment. Last year the group swung to a net loss of 1.2 billion euros – the biggest since 2008 – largely due to a writedown on its mobile unit and restructuring costs from an earlier plan to lay off 5,000 workers.

Crowdfunding counters France’s culture of caution

If you fail with a company, it’s almost impossible to get a bank loan again whereas in the United States, it’s considered a ‘guarantee’… that you won’t make the same mistake again,” said Scellier. “Crowdfunding in France is a very good thing, it will make access to funds easier for entrepreneurs.” Globally, the crowdfunding market grew 81 percent in 2012 and raised $2.7 billion, a figure expected to shoot up to $5.1 billion this year, according to research firm Massolution. North America is by far the leader in this innovative form of funding, which broadly falls under three categories — donation-based financing, peer-to-peer lending and buying equity in a company. In France, the trend emerged around 2008 with the rise to fame of Gregoire, a singer who financed his first album via the My Major Company crowdfunding platform. It has slowly gathered momentum. Some 33 million euros ($45 million) were raised in the first six months of 2013 — more than the whole of last year — with more to come. “Growth (in France) will be around 150 percent this year, compared to around 100 percent at a global level,” said Francois Carbone, head of the French crowdfunding association. “This shows that there is strong interest in France for this mode of funding, and that it is rising quickly.” Last week, the country’s Socialist government announced a series of new proposals aimed at facilitating crowdfunding, which until now was in regulatory limbo. These include the creation of a new legal status that would ease regulatory burdens for online crowdfunding platforms — a first in Europe according to innovation minister Fleur Pellerin. “We all know how much banks can be unadventurous, scared of new ideas from inventors and those with projects,” Pellerin said at a conference announcing the measures, which if adopted will kick in in early 2014. “This is a problem, particularly in a context of crisis where we actually need to encourage audacity, and test groundbreaking solutions to create more jobs. “For young or new entrepreneurs, (for) all those who…