France will start a privatization plan by selling stakes in regional airports and companies in which it holds double voting rights, Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron was quoted as saying in an interview published today in Le Monde.

The government won’t start by selling shares in nuclear operator Electricite de France SA or lottery company Francaise des Jeux, according to the interview. The state has “room to maneuver” on the planned stake sales which could be used to lower debt and invest in priority areas.

Macron said last month the French treasury will sell between 5 and 10 billion euros of state assets within 18 months as a way to raise funds to cut debt and invest in sectors to develop the economy. The French state has stakes in 74 companies of which 13 are listed entities whose state holdings were worth 76.4 billion euros ($95.7 billion) as of yesterday, according to the agency that manages the portfolio called the Agence des Participations de l’Etat.

The government has already started a process of selling its stake in Toulouse airport in southwestern France and earlier this year sold 1.5 billion euros of shares in GDF Suez SA, the country’s largest natural-gas distributor. This year it also acquired shares in carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroen.

The state offloaded 3.1 percent of GDF Suez, trimming its holding to 33.6 percent, Finance Minister Michel Sapin and Economic Minister Arnaud Montebourg said at the time. The government had the option to sell as much 3.6 percent of GDF, cutting its holdings below a previously required threshold of a third, because the law would allow it to have one third of voting rights in the utility, they said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tara Patel in Paris at To contact the editors responsible for this story: Will Kennedy at Chris Malpass, Mike Harrison.

Tags: france
Photo Credit: Flyers mill around outside the Toulouse airport in southwestern France. Laurent Jégou / Flickr