French Companies Have Newfound Freedom … to Fire

Perceptions of France, long derided as a difficult place to do business for its onerous labor rules, are changing. Growth has recently picked up after being stagnant for nearly five years. And there are signs that the changes, a major piece of the president’s economic program, are drawing the interest of investors.

“The complex labor laws have historically been the No. 1 obstacle to the competitiveness and attractiveness of France,” said Olivier Marchal, the chairman of Bain & Company France, a business consulting firm. The changes, together with other business-friendly measures such as a gradual reduction in the corporate tax, have “drastically changed investor perceptions,” he said.