France's tourist jewel loses lustre

NICE // When 130 people are killed on one evening in central Paris and 86 more die in Nice, a jewel robbery may seem a shallow reason for the French tourism industry to feel further pangs of concern.

But while the threat of terrorism is the obvious main cause of a worrying decline in France’s traditionally powerful appeal to the rest of the world, it would be foolish to rule out fears about personal safety as a contributing factor.

However the different causes are assessed, the impact has been severe. Tourism numbers rose from 83 million to 84.7 million between 2012 and 2014, confirming France as the world’s most visited country.

Before the Paris attacks, the World Travel and Tourism Council listed economic benefits as a €77.1 billion (Dh311.5bn) boost for GDP and 1.1 million direct jobs, both figures predicted to rise significantly in coming years. But the French government acknowledges that growth has now halted, especially in the capital, and tourism analysis says the target of reaching 100 million visits by 2020 looks extravagant.

Having suffered the effects of terrorist attacks, the sector regards the negative publicity following a high-profile robbery as decidedly unwelcome.

The US television reality show personality Kim Kardashian was unlucky in that a ruthless gang of criminals became aware of her whereabouts in a swish residence behind the Paris’s Madeleine church in the eighth arrondissement, while she attended Paris Fashion Week events.

But while not many people would dream of carrying diamond-studded rings and other gems worth millions of dollars for a short trip to to Paris, some affluent visitors – including many from the UAE and other Arabian Gulf countries – have always thought it entirely natural to wear what they wish and go where they want without being targeted by gangsters.

As a member of the Saudi royal family and editor-in-chief of Vogue Arabia, Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz is well placed to raise difficult questions. “There’s no question in my mind that this will play heavily on the mind of shoppers and travellers from the Gulf when it comes to visiting in Paris,” she told The New York Times.

“Lots wear their jewellery very openly … they shop and have always felt very safe doing so. But when something like this can happen, and to someone with such a good security detail, well – it’s a big surprise. And it’s very frightening.”

Emiratis and Saudis, often high-spending and favouring long stays, represent the Middle East’s main market for outbound travel, according to the most recent analysis from the Berlin-based ITB (International Tourism Market).

Predictions of a possible downturn in the flow of Gulf visitors to France preceded the November 13 attacks, although Paris was already considered at some risk after the murders committed by the French-Algerian Kouachi brothers at the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine, and separate killings by an accomplice in January last year.

The sheer scale of the massacres that followed dealt a much more severe blow to the sector. In the immediate aftermath of the killings of July 14 on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice – with Muslims among the victims as in Paris eight months earlier – large numbers of reservations were cancelled.

Estimates cited by the newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche warned of a 25 per cent cut in hotel revenues in the resort, France’s most visited city after the capital. And in Paris, some five-star hotels sliced between 25 and 40 per cent off room rates as people stayed away.

The French government said in August that visits by all foreigners had dropped by 7 per cent in the period from January, due in large part to terrorist attacks. The Parisian region was worst hit and the “perception of risk” had deterred better-off clients, especially from Asian countries, according to Jean-Marc Ayrault, minister of foreign affairs and tourism. By August, the number of nights spent in France by foreign visitors had fallen by 10 per cent.

Other reasons advanced for the decline include serious flooding that affected several areas and France’s reputation for disruptive strikes, sometimes accompanied by violence on the streets. A law passed in 2010 banning face-covering veils has also been a factor deterring Muslim visitors and this was aggravated by unseemly scenes from French beaches of women surrounded by police officers because they wore burqinis in contradiction of local mayoral orders, even though most bans were later overturned by the courts.

The need of France and other holiday destinations to retain their appeal to visitors from the Middle East was highlighted in a detailed report compiled by Fenja Weberskirch, marketing consultant for the International Tourism Consulting Group (IPK), based on data from last year’s edition of the ITB’s World Travel Monitor Forum in the Italian city of Pisa.

She stated: “The Middle East outbound travel market was actually the world’s fastest-growing market [in 2015] with a 9 per cent increase in outbound trips over the first eight months of this year, according to preliminary results.”

Besides Saudi Arabia, the UAE was listed as the region’s most active outbound market. “There is a very high proportion of high-earners going on international trips and a high [about 50 per cent] share of younger international travellers under the age of 34.”

About one-third of such trips were made with children and a similar proportion of outbound travel from the region was by expats with Gulf residential and work permits, mostly to visit friends and relatives.

In 2014, Ms Weberskirch reported, about two-thirds of outbound trips by Emiratis were for a range of holidays from tours and city visits to private purposes such as honeymoons and health-focused travel.

Ramzi Maaytah, a partner with IPK International Middle East, told the Pisa conference last year there was an interesting trend for well-off Arabs going abroad for treatment to choose destinations offering Islamic hospitality, such as Malaysia and Indonesia. “In general, Arab tourists tend to make conservative choices when selecting their destination,” he said. “They prefer safe choices and want to know what they will get.”

According to IPK and ITB, it remains to be seen how the tourism industry is bearing up in the face of terrorism. Updated analysis to be presented next month at the 2016 Pisa forum may shed some fresh light, but the two bodies say it is still unclear what impact the recent attacks will have on the perceived safety of Germany and France.

Despite the sombre outlook, one bright note was struck last month when officials for the region stretching west from the Italian border to Marseille, Montpellier and Perpignan, reported indications that the overall decrease would be limited to 0.5 per cent.

But Nice inevitably fared much worse, with hotel bookings 20.5 per cent down in high season compared with last year and the government is being urged to provide aid for the Cote d’Azur as it did for Paris after November 13. No one can be sure when, or even if, the resort can triumph over tragedy and fully regain its historic allure.

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Toulon // On the quayside at Saint-Mandrier-sur-Mer, opposite the French naval port of Toulon, state-of-the-art drones and robots capable of performing the most intricate of tasks on land, in the air and at sea stand gleaming in the Mediterranean sunshine.

Behind them rest two elderly and decommissioned warships.

The frigates’ remaining function is to serve as breakwater for the combat diving school run by DCI, the French defence ministry’s commercial arm for exporting know-how.

The expertise taught by DCI centre instructors travels successfully and 60 per cent of the divers trained there in the past 14 years have been from the Arabian Gulf.

DCI sales in the fields of consulting, training and technical assistance reached €227.5 million (Dh904m) in 2015m, reflecting a 35 per cent increase in five years. It brings employment for almost 1,000 people and there are permanent offices in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait and Saudi Arabia as well as South East Asia and India.

The juxtaposition of old and new on the Saint-Mandrier quayside presents a striking contrast. The old frigates have done their active service and been replaced by much more modern vessels; the robotic equipment to which they provide a backdrop has a wide range of military and civil applications in a more technological age.

The most eye-catching device on display is a yellow drone from the Toulon-based defence manufacturer ECA’s IT180 range. Valentin Hanns, ECA’s export sales director, says it would cost a buyer up to €300,000 for the basic model, adding: “What you pay above that depends on what kind of payload you want fitted.”

Beyond their value in conflict zones – a camera system with powerful zoom can identify enemy troops at a range of 600 metres – IT180s can be used in survey missions in mining and on pipelines and power lines and are proving an effective tool in firefighting.

At the naval air base of Hyeres, a short drive east of Toulon, Lt Bernard Bastien is happy to talk about the Panther Standard 2 helicopter he flies.

The aircraft is classically used for naval missions, either in conflict or in combating drug trafficking and piracy at sea. Gulf Armed Forces deploy several of the aircraft.

A reliable workhorse with a history stretching back more than 20 years, the Airbus-built helicopter has undergone significant upgrades to give it, in the words of the makers, a second youth. “We do not carry arms but act as the eyes of the frigate in any operation,” says Lt Bastien, 31, who serves with the French navy’s 36 Squadron or Flottille 36F.

“Previously, it could be like flying blind at night, with just radar, so we were able to detect what was there but not identify it. Infrared night visibility has made a huge difference; it’s as if we are flying in daylight.”

The Euronaval exhibition will also showcase developments in systems to counter cyber threats.

As Jean-Michel Orosco, senior vice-president in charge of cyber security for DCNS, puts it, “it comes down to trying to stay a step ahead of the bad guys”.

At the company’s new site in Ollioules, just outside Toulon, Mr Orosco says cyber attacks can be mounted for reasons of espionage or for use as a weapon or in organised crime.

“Just think about any major country in the world being without electricity supply for several weeks, as a result of state, terrorist or criminal cyber attacks,” he says. “It would be a nightmare.”

DCNS, which employs 13,000 people in 10 countries including Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and India, is currently building six Fremm-class frigates for the French navy, all to be delivered by 2019. It prides itself on its “cyber resilient” ships.

But as if to demonstrate the need for constant vigilance – that need to outsmart the assorted enemies mentioned by Mr Orosco – DCNS is currently embarrassed by a huge data breach concerning six Scorpene-class submarines it is due to supply to the Indian navy later this year.

The technical information targeted by hackers was handed to an Australian newspaper, which published extracts from the 22,000 pages reportedly leaked.

The technewsworld.com website says the episode raised questions about an Australian deal to buy 12 submarines from DCNS.

It echoes previous cyber attack on contractors who were in the running for the Australian deal.

No DCNS official was willing to comment beyond confirming that the leak was being investigated – and that the Australian contract was still considered on.

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Tensions spur rise in arms deals for navies

Paris// Amid a global clamour for enhanced security driven by growing threats from terrorism and regional tensions, delegates and exhibitors from almost 100 countries will gather in Paris next month for one of the world’s biggest naval defence events.

The steady growth of Euronaval, which runs for five days from October 17, is reflected in a market worth up to US$40 billion (Dh147bn) a year for new products alone, with a current order book standing at $150bn.

“Export markets are consequently growing too,” says Patrick Boissier, the president of Euronaval and of Gican, an umbrella group for France’s naval industry.

“From the Asia-Pacific zone, the American continent and the Middle East through to Africa, order prospects are very strong, from heavily armed large warships to small fast patrol boats, covering the whole range of surface and submarine naval capacities as well as maritime surveillance.”

According to the US department of commerce 2016 Defence Markets report, UAE defence expenditure in 2016 is expected to increase by 7.4 per cent to reach about $23.5bn, from $21.8bn in 2015, with a number of large weapons and systems contracts pending.

The biggest needs for the UAE include high-tech naval, air power and surveillance, and missile products and systems. The Air Force traditionally receives the lion’s share of the UAE’s total defence procurement with land forces second, followed by Special Operations and the Navy. The Critical Infrastructure & Coastal Protection Authority is also expanding rapidly and is tasked with protecting key infrastructure, such as water desalination plants, oil and gas platforms, pipelines, and the Barakah nuclear site, the report says.

The exhibition brings together buyers and sellers of ships and naval aircraft, weapons and a range of products and services from drones and anti-cyber attack systems to the training of military personnel. Middle Eastern countries including the UAE will be strongly represented at the exhibition.

One stand at the Paris show will alert visitors to the Navdex and Idex exhibitions due to be held at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (Adnec) from February 19 to 23 next year.

Navdex, the leading naval defence and maritime security event in the Middle East and North Africa, is the defence and maritime security section of Idex, which bills itself as the only international defence exhibition and conference in the Mena region.

Adnec says it is participating at Euronaval “to promote the sales of our shows and gain potential clients”.

Another stand at Euronaval has been booked by Prininvest, owned by the French-Lebanese brothers Iskandar and Akram Safa. The group, with split headquarters in Abu Dhabi and Beirut, has a wide-ranging portfolio of interests including shipyards and yacht-building.

Although the French event does not see itself as a showcase for the announcement of huge new deals, defence contractors expect interest in the products they display to translate into contracts stretching years into the future.

In one striking example of deals that take root at Euronaval, the saga of the two Mistral amphibious assault ships, sold by France to Russia for €1.37 billion (Dh5.6bn) only for the order to be cancelled as Europe reacted sharply to Russian involvement in the Ukraine conflict, had its origins at the event. France’s first announcement of plans to build such warships, which can also carry helicopters, tanks and hundreds of troops, was at the 1998 exhibition. The two ships have been now sold to Egypt, a prominent Middle East buyer of French military equipment.

The slowdown in the Chinese economy and the impact of falling oil prices have led to some shrinkage in orders for French naval equipment from Beijing and parts of the Middle East.

But the French president François Hollande, while deeply unpopular among voters, is credited with success as an ambassador for French military exports, notably to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt and India.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute and the Institute for Strategic Research both put US expenditure at $597bn and agree on the top 10 spending countries (US, China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Britain, India, France, Japan, Germany and South Korea).

Despite low oil prices, the UAE is forecast to increase its defence budget over the next few years and is expected to reach $41bn by 2025, as the country continues to diversify, says the commerce department report.

It is expected to be one of the world’s largest defence spenders and has consistently ranked in the 14 top defence global spenders for the past three years (based on SIPRI data), the report adds.

Military naval construction is “not doing too badly” despite continuing economic crises in other sectors, including civil construction, according to Mr Boissier. Gican’s 160 member companies employ more than 40,000 people and its subsidiary Sogena organises Euronaval.

“At a time when the risk of terrorism is added to regional tensions and territorial and economic [disputes] at sea, a number of maritime countries are legitimately choosing to strengthen their navies’ equipment,” says Mr Boissier.

He describes the US market as stable, the country remaining the biggest naval spender with an annual outlay of US$12bn matching the combined investment of a group of regions including the Middle East, India and Australia.

European nations have also maintained spending levels, with purchases totalling $10bn to $11bn a year.

The broadly stable market, with China a notable exception, has also led to increases in the number and exhibitors at Euronaval – 10 per cent up on the 2014 edition of the biennial event – and the range of nationalities taking part. Japan and Denmark are sending exhibitors next month for the first time since the exhibition began in 1968.

Much interest at Euronaval is likely to focus on the new developments from leading French contractors,

The major French contractors vying for attention – and business – at Euronaval include Thales and four other majors commonly known by their acronyms ECA, MBDA, CNIM and DCNS. The French state has a 62 per cent stake in DCNS, with a 35 per cent holding owned by the aerospace specialist Thales.

ECA, based in Toulon, already helps to equip nine of the world’s largest 10 armies among customers in 80 countries. Owned by the Gorge Group, it specialises in unmanned and autonomous equipment for mine detection and destruction, designing drones for use on and under water and on land. ECA is also developing a research programme to improve the capacity and performance of a range of robotic products with a variety of uses from harbour and underwater coastal surveillance to wreck inspection.

MBDA, which works with 90 nations including some in the Arabian Gulf, produces Exocet, Sea Venom, Marte anti-ship missiles and VL Mica anti-air missiles.

Some of these will arm four new Gowind corvettes supplied by DCNS to Egypt. The first was floated in the French shipyard of Lorient this month and the others are being built in the Egyptian port of Alexandria.

MBDA executives insist that friendly nations are entitled to French know-how and products in order to protect themselves against possible aggressors. “But the government is very careful about who France does business with,” says Stefano Bertuzzi, the head of the company’s naval exports.

A senior colleague stressed the key element of using deadly armaments to deter enemies rather than firing them, adding: “Of more than 40 MBDA products, only a handful have actually been used in anger.”

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There is no simple path on Brexit trade negotiations

MARSEILLE // On both sides of the English Channel, businesses and political leaders face two years or more of uncertainty and complex negotiation as the process of British withdrawal from the European Union turns last week’s referendum result into reality.

The most senior EU figures – the presidents of the European commission, council and parliament, and under its rotating system the union itself – have swiftly ruled out any notion of renegotiation of the contentious concessions agreed in February.

That deal, secured by the prime minister, David Cameron, but fiercely criticised by pro-Brexit campaigners as offering few worthwhile or new concessions at all, “will not take effect and ceases to exist”, they say.

For them, the mechanics of withdrawal may by painful but they must be completed as quickly as possible under the relevant statute, article 50 of the Treaty of European Union.

There are trade agreements to thrash out. Discussions are needed to clarify the rights or lack of them of expatriates resident in Britain or having moved from the UK to EU member states. Britain has been warned not to expect an easy ride.

“No special treatment,” said Manfred Weber, the leader of the conservative European People’s Party, the largest group in the European Parliament.

And the four EU presidents emphasised the seriousness of the talks process, noting that it is for Britain to formulate its proposals: “We hope to have [the UK] as a close partner of the EU in the future … Any agreement, which will be concluded with the UK as a third country, will have to reflect the interests of both sides and be balanced in terms of rights and obligations.”

Their words amply justify the immediate post-referendum thoughts of Olivier Campenon, the newly appointed president of the 144-year-old Anglo-French Chamber of Commerce in Paris, a job that has suddenly become a good deal trickier.

“The British people have voted democratically and chosen to leave the EU,” he said. “It’s certainly a major blow for the whole of Europe but also a historic date in that it signifies a journey into the unknown. Many scenarios were canvassed during the campaign but the truth is we don’t know what will transpire, only that we are confronted by a different Europe.”

The Société Générale bank and the plane maker Airbus have sought to soothe nerves by committing themselves to their operation or relations with the UK.

If companies more readily associated with mainland Europe developed cold feet about dealing with the UK, one area that could suffer is the north-eastern city of Sunderland, which produced the earliest reverse for the Remain camp as voting was counted.

The Nissan plant on the city’s outskirts employs 6,700 people in a job-starved area. So far the message from afar is essentially encouraging. Carlos Ghosn, the chairman and chief executive of Renault and Nissan, diplomatically said his group would adapt to whatever decision the British made.

But he made clear his preference for a vote to stay inside the EU and some industry sources have suggested future investment decisions may well change. “We obviously want the Nissan UK plant and engineering centre to remain as competitive as possible when compared with other global entities and each future investment opportunity will be taken on a case-by-case basis, just as it is now,” Mr Ghosn said in February.

The German BMW and Daimler groups said more recently that withdrawal would be “very regrettable”, a view shared by Peugeot Citroën and General Motors’ Opel, and stressed that much would depend on what sort of post-departure agreements Britain negotiated.

Smaller business are wary, too. One UK entrepreneur, Nelson Sivalingam, the founder of Wonderush.com, which aims to help small business fight big, market-dominating corporations, rues that Britain is leaving rather than aspiring to lead Europe.

“Although the Leave campaign pitched that we will be better off financially, the plain fact is that much of UK company investment and foreign investment is heavily linked to having a guaranteed tariff-free access to the EU market,” he said. “Raising early-stage funding in the lead-up to the referendum has been tough, as investors have been very cautious because of the uncertainty, and this just gets worse.

“Recruiting international talent is already harder than it should be and by leaving the EU we’re taking a further step back.”

He fears many start-ups, already tempted to take their business to the United States and raise capital there, will want to move out of the UK.

“The idea of proposing to leave and then make individual trade agreements is like having a divorce but then asking to be friends with benefits,” he said.

Mr Sivalingam said that despite the focus on imports and exports, the growth in high-tech businesses and trade in digital services was just as important. “Brexit could mean tech start-ups are exposed to multiple regulations from the UK and the EU with regards to data handling and movement.”

The road ahead seems likely to remain bumpy for some time, even after – or indeed if – the initial market wobbles calm.

But amid much concern about Britain’s future outside the EU, and the rest of Europe’s trading relations with the UK, one glimmer of hope appeared in the early responses to the Brexit vote.

“The vote to leave the EU has clearly weakened the near-term outlook for the UK economy,” said the international financial research company Capital Economics. “But we still think that the ultimate damage will be smaller than many estimates have suggested.”

Many men and women doing business with Britain from the other 27 EU nations, and countless British exporters, fervently hope that view is proved right.

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Brexit latest: reaction from around Europe

All times UAE

12.50pm

Manfred Weber, the leader of the largest group in the European Parliament, the conservative European People’s Party, said British exit negotiations must be concluded within a maximum of two years. “There cannot be any special treatment,” he tweeted. “Leave means leave.”

12.30pm

Alain Juppe, the former French prime minister and foreign minister and a probable presidential contender in 2017, called for an end to EU enlargement. Mr Juppe, who opposes Turkish entry into the bloc, said: “This is a historic blow for Britain. The people are sovereign, have made their choice and must now manage the challenges they will have to face.” For the EU, the clear message was one of disenchantment with what seemed “an incomprehensible bureaucratic machine, incapable of restoring growth and employment, powerless to control our borders … We can not continue as before. We must write a new page, a new chapter in Europe.”

12.25pm

Spain said it remained committed to the EU and the foreign minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo said Brexit raised the possibility of Gibraltar – British since the 18th century – returning to Spanish sovereignty. Gibraltar voted overwhelmingly in favour of Remain but the minister said the territory would retain access to the EU’s single market it came under Madrid rule following a period of joint sovereignty.

12.15pm

Donald Tusk, the Polish president of the EU, said the bloc was determined to remain unified. “On behalf of the 27 leaders, I can say that we are determined to keep our unity as 27,” he said in Brussels. “It is a historic moment but for sure not a moment for hysterical reactions.”

11.50am

Analysts at the international financial research company Capital Economics sought to calm fears that Brexit would destroy the UK economy. “The vote to leave the EU has clearly weakened the near-term outlook for the UK economy,” the firm said. “But we still think that the ultimate damage will be smaller than many estimates have suggested.”

11.25am

Amid deep anxiety sweeping financial markets, the German and French stock exchanges opened 10 per cent down in Frankfurt, 8 per cent in Paris.

11.10am

The French news magazine Le Point spoke of a “historic earthquake” for Europe and feared a “Black Friday” for financial markets after international stock exchanges suffered early falls. The magazine said the outcome left Britain a sharply divided country, with pro-Remain voters London, Scotland and Northern Ireland outnumbered by Leave supporters in the north and Wales who had acted defiance of warnings of “disastrous” economic consequences in the event of withdrawal.

11am

The Belgian prime minister Charles Michel called for a EU “conclave” in July to “reaffirm our commitment” to the bloc. “We have to define our priorities and set out a new future for Europe,” he said.

10.12am

Martin Schulz, the president of the European Parliament, said he would have talks with the German chancellor Angela Merkel on ways of avoiding a “chain reaction”.

10.11am

Germany’s foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in a tweet posted by his department: “The news from Britain is really sobering. It looks like a sad day for Europe and Britain.”

10am

Martin Schulz, the president of the European Parliament: “We respect the result. Now is the time for us to behave seriously and responsibly. David Cameron has his responsibilities for his country, we have our responsibilities for the future of the EU.” Quoted by the BBC, he added: “You can see what is happening to sterling on the markets. I don’t want the same thing to happen to the euro.”

9.45am

“A catastrophic result for Britain and also for Europe and Germany, that is especially the German economy,” said Anton Boerner, head of Germany’s foreign trade association, quoted by the BBC. “It is disturbing that the oldest democracy in the world turns its back on us.”

Germany’s vice chancellor Sigmar Gabriel tweeted: “Damn! A bad day for Europe.”

9.20am

The anti-EU French extreme right was also jubilant. Marine Le Pen, leader of the French Front National party and a certain contender in next year’s presidential elections, on Twitter: “Victory for freedom. As I’ve been urging for years, we must now have the same referendum in France and other EU countries.”

9.10am

The Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilder, who wants the Netherlands to leave the EU too, tweeted: “Hurrah for the British! Now it is our turn. Time for a Dutch referendum! #ByeByeEU.”

9.01am

As Sky TV’s projection, at 9am UAE time, said the UK had voted to leave, French media highlighted sterling’s most dramatic fall in 31 years. The decrease of more than 10 per cent – even more marked than on the so-called Black Wednesday of September 16 1992, when Britain was forced to withdraw from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism – “seems to confirm the prediction of George Soros [the Hungarian-American financier] of a Black Friday for the British economy,” said Europe 1 radio.

8.40am

France’s Le Figaro newspaper, speculating on a potential blow from British withdrawal to French fragile hopes of economic recovery, quoted Euler Hermes, a credit insurance division of Germany-based financial services company Allianz SE, as warning the impact on sterling and Britain’s GDP would trigger a “significant fall” in UK imports from the EU zone.

Brexit: reaction in France and around Europe

Marseilles, France

Britain’s vote to leave the EU was greeted with sadness in mainland Europe but also, among euro-sceptics in member states, a sense of excitement. A timeline of reactions is below.

Far right, anti-EU political leaders in the Netherlands and France seized upon the outcome to intensify demands for referendums in their own countries. Marine Le Pen, the head of France’s Front National and a strong contender for the presidency in the 2017 elections, described the result as a victory for freedom.

But the German chancellor Angela Merkel summed up mainstream political reaction by saying her government noted the win for Brexit “with regret”.

There was broad recognition that the EU could not shrug off the vote, in the words of Alain Juppe, a former French prime minister who could rival Miss Le Pen in the second round runoff next year, “as if nothing has happened”.

Mr Juppe called for an end to EU enlargement, which would end Turkey’s attempt to join.

The vote leaves businesses on both sides of the English Channel apprehensive. Two French giants, Société Générale and the plane maker Airbus, pledged continuing commitment to their interests in and links with the UK.

But Olivier Campenon, the president of the Anglo-French Chamber of Commerce in Paris, admitted Brexit was a major blow for the whole of Europe, thrusting Britain and the EU “into the unknown”.

Timeline of reactions to the UK vote to leave the EU:

All times UAE

3.44pm

The German chancellor Angela Merkel said her government took note of the British people’s decision “with regret”. “There is no doubt that this is a blow to Europe and to the European unification process,” she said, adding that German’s history gave it a “particular interest and responsibility” to ensure the project succeeded.

2.30pm

Gerard Larcher, the president of France’s upper house, the Senate, issued a statement entitled “Bye bye England” and called for the European project to be relaunched, “urgently reinventing its future for the nations that compose it … The time for enlargement should be suspended and the Franco-German axis, undermined by the weakening of our country, must regain its leading role.

1.20pm

The French president François Hollande will later today chair what is being called in Paris a “crisis meeting” of his government following the British referendum vote to leave the EU.

12.50pm

Manfred Weber, the leader of the largest group in the European Parliament, the conservative European People’s Party, said British exit negotiations must be concluded within a maximum of two years. “There cannot be any special treatment,” he tweeted. “Leave means leave.”

12.30pm

Alain Juppe, the former French prime minister and foreign minister and a probable presidential contender in 2017, called for an end to EU enlargement. Mr Juppe, who opposes Turkish entry into the bloc, said: “This is a historic blow for Britain. The people are sovereign, have made their choice and must now manage the challenges they will have to face.” For the EU, the clear message was one of disenchantment with what seemed “an incomprehensible bureaucratic machine, incapable of restoring growth and employment, powerless to control our borders … We can not continue as before. We must write a new page, a new chapter in Europe.”

12.25pm

Spain said it remained committed to the EU and the foreign minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo said Brexit raised the possibility of Gibraltar – British since the 18th century – returning to Spanish sovereignty. Gibraltar voted overwhelmingly in favour of Remain but the minister said the territory would retain access to the EU’s single market it came under Madrid rule following a period of joint sovereignty.

12.15pm

Donald Tusk, the Polish president of the EU, said the bloc was determined to remain unified. “On behalf of the 27 leaders, I can say that we are determined to keep our unity as 27,” he said in Brussels. “It is a historic moment but for sure not a moment for hysterical reactions.”

11.50am

Analysts at the international financial research company Capital Economics sought to calm fears that Brexit would destroy the UK economy. “The vote to leave the EU has clearly weakened the near-term outlook for the UK economy,” the firm said. “But we still think that the ultimate damage will be smaller than many estimates have suggested.”

11.25am

Amid deep anxiety sweeping financial markets, the German and French stock exchanges opened 10 per cent down in Frankfurt, 8 per cent in Paris.

11.10am

The French news magazine Le Point spoke of a “historic earthquake” for Europe and feared a “Black Friday” for financial markets after international stock exchanges suffered early falls. The magazine said the outcome left Britain a sharply divided country, with pro-Remain voters London, Scotland and Northern Ireland outnumbered by Leave supporters in the north and Wales who had acted defiance of warnings of “disastrous” economic consequences in the event of withdrawal.

11am

The Belgian prime minister Charles Michel called for a EU “conclave” in July to “reaffirm our commitment” to the bloc. “We have to define our priorities and set out a new future for Europe,” he said.

10.12am

Martin Schulz, the president of the European Parliament, said he would have talks with the German chancellor Angela Merkel on ways of avoiding a “chain reaction”.

10.11am

Germany’s foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in a tweet posted by his department: “The news from Britain is really sobering. It looks like a sad day for Europe and Britain.”

10am

Martin Schulz, the president of the European Parliament: “We respect the result. Now is the time for us to behave seriously and responsibly. David Cameron has his responsibilities for his country, we have our responsibilities for the future of the EU.” Quoted by the BBC, he added: “You can see what is happening to sterling on the markets. I don’t want the same thing to happen to the euro.”

9.45am

“A catastrophic result for Britain and also for Europe and Germany, that is especially the German economy,” said Anton Boerner, head of Germany’s foreign trade association, quoted by the BBC. “It is disturbing that the oldest democracy in the world turns its back on us.”

Germany’s vice chancellor Sigmar Gabriel tweeted: “Damn! A bad day for Europe.”

9.20am

The anti-EU French extreme right was also jubilant. Marine Le Pen, leader of the French Front National party and a certain contender in next year’s presidential elections, on Twitter: “Victory for freedom. As I’ve been urging for years, we must now have the same referendum in France and other EU countries.”

9.10am

The Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders, who wants the Netherlands to leave the EU too, tweeted: “Hurrah for the British! Now it is our turn. Time for a Dutch referendum! #ByeByeEU.”

9.01am

As Sky TV’s projection, at 9am UAE time, said the UK had voted to leave, French media highlighted sterling’s most dramatic fall in 31 years. The decrease of more than 10 per cent – even more marked than on the so-called Black Wednesday of September 16 1992, when Britain was forced to withdraw from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism – “seems to confirm the prediction of George Soros [the Hungarian-American financier] of a Black Friday for the British economy,” said Europe 1 radio.

8.40am

France’s Le Figaro newspaper, speculating on a potential blow from British withdrawal to French fragile hopes of economic recovery, quoted Euler Hermes, a credit insurance division of Germany-based financial services company Allianz SE, as warning the impact on sterling and Britain’s GDP would trigger a “significant fall” in UK imports from the EU zone.

Brexit: reaction from around Europe

Marseilles, France

Britain’s vote to leave the EU was greeted with sadness in mainland Europe but also, among euro-sceptics in member states, a sense of excitement. A timeline of reactions is below.

Far right, anti-EU political leaders in the Netherlands and France seized upon the outcome to intensify demands for referendums in their own countries. Marine Le Pen, the head of France’s Front National and a strong contender for the presidency in the 2017 elections, described the result as a victory for freedom.

But the German chancellor Angela Merkel summed up mainstream political reaction by saying her government noted the win for Brexit “with regret”.

There was broad recognition that the EU could not shrug off the vote, in the words of Alain Juppe, a former French prime minister who could rival Miss Le Pen in the second round runoff next year, “as if nothing has happened”.

Mr Juppe called for an end to EU enlargement, which would end Turkey’s attempt to join.

The vote leaves businesses on both sides of the English Channel apprehensive. Two French giants, Société Générale and the plane maker Airbus, pledged continuing commitment to their interests in and links with the UK.

But Olivier Campenon, the president of the Anglo-French Chamber of Commerce in Paris, admitted Brexit was a major blow for the whole of Europe, thrusting Britain and the EU “into the unknown”.

Timeline of reactions to the UK vote to leave the EU:

All times UAE

3.44pm

The German chancellor Angela Merkel said her government took note of the British people’s decision “with regret”. “There is no doubt that this is a blow to Europe and to the European unification process,” she said, adding that German’s history gave it a “particular interest and responsibility” to ensure the project succeeded.

2.30pm

Gerard Larcher, the president of France’s upper house, the Senate, issued a statement entitled “Bye bye England” and called for the European project to be relaunched, “urgently reinventing its future for the nations that compose it … The time for enlargement should be suspended and the Franco-German axis, undermined by the weakening of our country, must regain its leading role.

1.20pm

The French president François Hollande will later today chair what is being called in Paris a “crisis meeting” of his government following the British referendum vote to leave the EU.

12.50pm

Manfred Weber, the leader of the largest group in the European Parliament, the conservative European People’s Party, said British exit negotiations must be concluded within a maximum of two years. “There cannot be any special treatment,” he tweeted. “Leave means leave.”

12.30pm

Alain Juppe, the former French prime minister and foreign minister and a probable presidential contender in 2017, called for an end to EU enlargement. Mr Juppe, who opposes Turkish entry into the bloc, said: “This is a historic blow for Britain. The people are sovereign, have made their choice and must now manage the challenges they will have to face.” For the EU, the clear message was one of disenchantment with what seemed “an incomprehensible bureaucratic machine, incapable of restoring growth and employment, powerless to control our borders … We can not continue as before. We must write a new page, a new chapter in Europe.”

12.25pm

Spain said it remained committed to the EU and the foreign minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo said Brexit raised the possibility of Gibraltar – British since the 18th century – returning to Spanish sovereignty. Gibraltar voted overwhelmingly in favour of Remain but the minister said the territory would retain access to the EU’s single market it came under Madrid rule following a period of joint sovereignty.

12.15pm

Donald Tusk, the Polish president of the EU, said the bloc was determined to remain unified. “On behalf of the 27 leaders, I can say that we are determined to keep our unity as 27,” he said in Brussels. “It is a historic moment but for sure not a moment for hysterical reactions.”

11.50am

Analysts at the international financial research company Capital Economics sought to calm fears that Brexit would destroy the UK economy. “The vote to leave the EU has clearly weakened the near-term outlook for the UK economy,” the firm said. “But we still think that the ultimate damage will be smaller than many estimates have suggested.”

11.25am

Amid deep anxiety sweeping financial markets, the German and French stock exchanges opened 10 per cent down in Frankfurt, 8 per cent in Paris.

11.10am

The French news magazine Le Point spoke of a “historic earthquake” for Europe and feared a “Black Friday” for financial markets after international stock exchanges suffered early falls. The magazine said the outcome left Britain a sharply divided country, with pro-Remain voters London, Scotland and Northern Ireland outnumbered by Leave supporters in the north and Wales who had acted defiance of warnings of “disastrous” economic consequences in the event of withdrawal.

11am

The Belgian prime minister Charles Michel called for a EU “conclave” in July to “reaffirm our commitment” to the bloc. “We have to define our priorities and set out a new future for Europe,” he said.

10.12am

Martin Schulz, the president of the European Parliament, said he would have talks with the German chancellor Angela Merkel on ways of avoiding a “chain reaction”.

10.11am

Germany’s foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in a tweet posted by his department: “The news from Britain is really sobering. It looks like a sad day for Europe and Britain.”

10am

Martin Schulz, the president of the European Parliament: “We respect the result. Now is the time for us to behave seriously and responsibly. David Cameron has his responsibilities for his country, we have our responsibilities for the future of the EU.” Quoted by the BBC, he added: “You can see what is happening to sterling on the markets. I don’t want the same thing to happen to the euro.”

9.45am

“A catastrophic result for Britain and also for Europe and Germany, that is especially the German economy,” said Anton Boerner, head of Germany’s foreign trade association, quoted by the BBC. “It is disturbing that the oldest democracy in the world turns its back on us.”

Germany’s vice chancellor Sigmar Gabriel tweeted: “Damn! A bad day for Europe.”

9.20am

The anti-EU French extreme right was also jubilant. Marine Le Pen, leader of the French Front National party and a certain contender in next year’s presidential elections, on Twitter: “Victory for freedom. As I’ve been urging for years, we must now have the same referendum in France and other EU countries.”

9.10am

The Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilder, who wants the Netherlands to leave the EU too, tweeted: “Hurrah for the British! Now it is our turn. Time for a Dutch referendum! #ByeByeEU.”

9.01am

As Sky TV’s projection, at 9am UAE time, said the UK had voted to leave, French media highlighted sterling’s most dramatic fall in 31 years. The decrease of more than 10 per cent – even more marked than on the so-called Black Wednesday of September 16 1992, when Britain was forced to withdraw from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism – “seems to confirm the prediction of George Soros [the Hungarian-American financier] of a Black Friday for the British economy,” said Europe 1 radio.

8.40am

France’s Le Figaro newspaper, speculating on a potential blow from British withdrawal to French fragile hopes of economic recovery, quoted Euler Hermes, a credit insurance division of Germany-based financial services company Allianz SE, as warning the impact on sterling and Britain’s GDP would trigger a “significant fall” in UK imports from the EU zone.

Brexit latest: reaction from around Europe

All times UAE

12.50pm

Manfred Weber, the leader of the largest group in the European Parliament, the conservative European People’s Party, said British exit negotiations must be concluded within a maximum of two years. “There cannot be any special treatment,” he tweeted. “Leave means leave.”

12.30pm

Alain Juppe, the former French prime minister and foreign minister and a probable presidential contender in 2017, called for an end to EU enlargement. Mr Juppe, who opposes Turkish entry into the bloc, said: “This is a historic blow for Britain. The people are sovereign, have made their choice and must now manage the challenges they will have to face.” For the EU, the clear message was one of disenchantment with what seemed “an incomprehensible bureaucratic machine, incapable of restoring growth and employment, powerless to control our borders … We can not continue as before. We must write a new page, a new chapter in Europe.”

12.25pm

Spain said it remained committed to the EU and the foreign minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo said Brexit raised the possibility of Gibraltar – British since the 18th century – returning to Spanish sovereignty. Gibraltar voted overwhelmingly in favour of Remain but the minister said the territory would retain access to the EU’s single market it came under Madrid rule following a period of joint sovereignty.

12.15pm

Donald Tusk, the Polish president of the EU, said the bloc was determined to remain unified. “On behalf of the 27 leaders, I can say that we are determined to keep our unity as 27,” he said in Brussels. “It is a historic moment but for sure not a moment for hysterical reactions.”

11.50am

Analysts at the international financial research company Capital Economics sought to calm fears that Brexit would destroy the UK economy. “The vote to leave the EU has clearly weakened the near-term outlook for the UK economy,” the firm said. “But we still think that the ultimate damage will be smaller than many estimates have suggested.”

11.25am

Amid deep anxiety sweeping financial markets, the German and French stock exchanges opened 10 per cent down in Frankfurt, 8 per cent in Paris.

11.10am

The French news magazine Le Point spoke of a “historic earthquake” for Europe and feared a “Black Friday” for financial markets after international stock exchanges suffered early falls. The magazine said the outcome left Britain a sharply divided country, with pro-Remain voters London, Scotland and Northern Ireland outnumbered by Leave supporters in the north and Wales who had acted defiance of warnings of “disastrous” economic consequences in the event of withdrawal.

11am

The Belgian prime minister Charles Michel called for a EU “conclave” in July to “reaffirm our commitment” to the bloc. “We have to define our priorities and set out a new future for Europe,” he said.

10.12am

Martin Schulz, the president of the European Parliament, said he would have talks with the German chancellor Angela Merkel on ways of avoiding a “chain reaction”.

10.11am

Germany’s foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in a tweet posted by his department: “The news from Britain is really sobering. It looks like a sad day for Europe and Britain.”

10am

Martin Schulz, the president of the European Parliament: “We respect the result. Now is the time for us to behave seriously and responsibly. David Cameron has his responsibilities for his country, we have our responsibilities for the future of the EU.” Quoted by the BBC, he added: “You can see what is happening to sterling on the markets. I don’t want the same thing to happen to the euro.”

9.45am

“A catastrophic result for Britain and also for Europe and Germany, that is especially the German economy,” said Anton Boerner, head of Germany’s foreign trade association, quoted by the BBC. “It is disturbing that the oldest democracy in the world turns its back on us.”

Germany’s vice chancellor Sigmar Gabriel tweeted: “Damn! A bad day for Europe.”

9.20am

The anti-EU French extreme right was also jubilant. Marine Le Pen, leader of the French Front National party and a certain contender in next year’s presidential elections, on Twitter: “Victory for freedom. As I’ve been urging for years, we must now have the same referendum in France and other EU countries.”

9.10am

The Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilder, who wants the Netherlands to leave the EU too, tweeted: “Hurrah for the British! Now it is our turn. Time for a Dutch referendum! #ByeByeEU.”

9.01am

As Sky TV’s projection, at 9am UAE time, said the UK had voted to leave, French media highlighted sterling’s most dramatic fall in 31 years. The decrease of more than 10 per cent – even more marked than on the so-called Black Wednesday of September 16 1992, when Britain was forced to withdraw from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism – “seems to confirm the prediction of George Soros [the Hungarian-American financier] of a Black Friday for the British economy,” said Europe 1 radio.

8.40am

France’s Le Figaro newspaper, speculating on a potential blow from British withdrawal to French fragile hopes of economic recovery, quoted Euler Hermes, a credit insurance division of Germany-based financial services company Allianz SE, as warning the impact on sterling and Britain’s GDP would trigger a “significant fall” in UK imports from the EU zone.

Big business focus turns to UK decision

MARSEILLE // Amid all the posturing, polemic and intemperate language generated by Britain’s referendum on whether to remain part of the European Union, the implications for Britain’s business relationships with member states remain clouded in uncertainty.

Few observers on the European mainland doubt that a vote on the June 23 in favour of Brexit would force a serious review of trading and investment.

Exactly what impact would be felt in specific business areas is as open to debate as the possible consequence for European politics, with some senior politicians in France and elsewhere openly concerned that a British vote to leave would encourage anti-EU elements in other countries.

Carlos Ghosn, the chairman and chief executive of the French and Japanese motor manufacturing majors Renault and Nissan, diplomatically says his group will adapt to whatever decision British makes.

In the UK and EU’s major trade partner, meanwhile, a Brexit could have “significant economic repercussions” for the United States, the Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen warned on Monday.

Her comments came as the Japanese electronics conglomerate Hitachi said it would “rethink” investment plans if the UK quit the EU.

But, diplomacy aside, Mr Ghosn makes no secret of his belief that Britain should remain within the bloc. Nissan employs 8,000 people in the United Kingdom, with 32,000 more working indirectly through dealerships and the supply chain. There is no current threat to close its plant near Sunderland in north-east England, but some industry sources fear future investment decisions would inevitably change if Britain found itself outside the 28-nation bloc.

Mr Ghosn said in February that, while the decision was one for the British people, Nissan believed Britain’s best interests were served by remaining within the EU.

“We are a global business with a strong presence in Europe. We have a rich heritage in the UK with 30 years of manufacturing and engineering presence, and remain committed to building and engineering cars in the country,” he said. “Last year we produced more than 475,000 vehicles in the UK, 80 per cent of which are exported.

“Our preference as a business is, of course, that the UK stays within Europe – it makes the most sense for jobs, trade and costs. For us, a position of stability is more positive than a collection of unknowns … We obviously want the Nissan UK plant and engineering centre to remain as competitive as possible when compared with other global entities, and each future investment opportunity will be taken on a case by case basis, just as it is now.”

If those words carried at least the hint of troubled times ahead if Britain leaves the union, the dangers as seen by the German BMW and Daimler groups are even more pronounced. The chiefs of both companies were quoted as saying at the Geneva motor show in March that withdrawal would be “very regrettable”.

Harald Krueger, BMW’s chief executive, says the critical issue will be what type of post-Brexit trade agreement the UK is able to reach with the EU. His concerns are shared by the CEOs of PSA Peugeot Citroën and General Motors’ Opel, the makers of Vauxhall cars in Britain.

Meanwhile, Vincent de Rivaz, the chief executive of the British subsidiary of the French energy provider EDF, has assured British MPs that the controversial £18 billion (Dh96.4bn) project for a new nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point, in western England, would be unaffected by a vote to leave.

He told a parliamentary committee of energy and climate change in March the proposed Hinkley Point C had already passed numerous regulatory, political, commercial and operational hurdles.

But there are other obstacles. A final investment decision has yet to be made and the French government, which owns 85 per cent of EDF, is under pressure from unions worried the group is overstretching itself. A consultation process has begun and a final decision may not come until several weeks after the referendum.

When Britain goes to the polls, electors will be asked one simple question: “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”

But the wording is, perhaps, the only simple aspect of the campaign. The Brexit camp complains of “scaremongering” whenever fears are raised about future employment and investment prospects while those urging voters to keep Britain in Europe say membership is key to the nation’s prosperity.

The Britain Stronger in Europe lobby says almost half of what the UK sells to the world is sold to other member states, while an average of £24bn in investment flowing into Britain each year from Europe.

And it cites an estimate from the UK’s Confederation of British Industry that 3 million British jobs are linked to trade with the rest of the EU.

Equally stridently, the anti-EU Business for Britain group, affiliated to the Vote Leave campaign and claiming members from across the political spectrum, declares: “We believe that leaving the EU will create a better, fairer, more enterprising and prosperous United Kingdom.

“Free from unnecessary, restrictive and financially punitive regulation, able to make our own trade arrangements and to better invest our wasted EU ‘tax’, Britain will be the best place in the world to do business.”

Experts are also divided, although polls suggest more business leaders favour staying in the EU.

Gregor Irwin, a former mandarin at Britain’s foreign affairs ministry, says some of what is written about the economic consequences of Brexit is impartial, much of it partisan.

“Very little has been written on the consequences for the rest of the EU,” he wrote, introducing a report for the think tank Global Counsel, where he is the chief economist.

“The impact of Brexit through the trade and investment channels would be most severe in the UK,” he says in conclusion.

“Regulatory divergence would increase over time, affecting trade volumes and reducing the attractiveness of the UK for investment.

“This would impact on European businesses invested or trading in the UK and supply chains involving UK firms, but the magnitude depends on the specific Brexit model and is impossible to predict. The rest of the EU would also feel the impact through several other channels.”

However, Mr Irwin sees little prospect of London being dislodged as Europe’s leading international financial centre.

But perhaps the most authentic voice on the continent, in assessing the British temperament, is that of a respected French commentator, François Lenglet, quoting with approval the thoughts of the Victorian British statesman Lord Palmerston: “We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.”

business@thenational

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How Mathieu Flamini and Asamoah Gyan are making money away from the football pitch

The Arsenal footballer Mathieu Flamini’s surprising sideline, as the founder of a biochemicals company, highlights a distinct change in the way sportsmen and women now prepare for their longer-term futures.

In less monied times, especially in football, even the top players reaching the end of their careers would see their choices as straightforward.

Some would try to remain in the game, for example as managers or scouts. Others became publicans or returned to businesses or trades in which they had worked before turning professional.

There were opportunities as media pundits but not to anything like the extent seen now. Few had been made wealthy by sport.

In contrast, today’s stars are practically high-earning SMEs long before they stop playing.

The Ghanaian striker Asamoah Gyan made no secret of his financial motives for moving from the English Premier League to play for Al Ain five years ago and then, last year, from the UAE to China, in each case improving hugely on already substantial wages. Terms of the deal to move to Shanghai SIPG were not disclosed but local media reported at the time he would be earning in excess of the US$250,000 per week he was receiving at the UAE champions Al Ain

But Gyan has also been investing heavily. By 2012, when still only 26, he was reported to have ploughed some of his earnings into road transport.

His company operates more than 20 coaches on the Accra-Kumasi highway in his native country.

Gyan also has a boxing promotion firm, acts as a brand advocate for Unibank Ghana and has dabbled with success in pop music.

Earlier generations of footballers, while comfortably off by the standards of the people they grew up with, earned too little to fund major sorties into commercial life. Until 1961, English players’ wages were capped at £20 (Dh104) a week, and less in the closed season. That equates to little more than £400 a week at today’s values, a negligible sum when compared with the riches paid to footballers currently playing in the world’s leading leagues.

Last year, the business magazine Forbes listed the top three earners in football as Real Madrid’s Christiano Ronaldo ($79.6 million in the previous 12 months), Barcelona’s Lionel Messi ($73.8.m) and Paris Saint-Germain’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic ($39.1m), their colossal income coming from endorsement and sponsorship deals as well as wages and bonuses.

Yet they were behind other sportsmen, the leading two places in the Forbes list taken by boxers, the now retired US fighter Floyd Mayweather ($300m) and the Filipino Manny Pacquiao ($160m), who added to his fortune with this month’s win over the American Tim Bradley in what he says was his last fight.

In football, as in other mass-interest sports, the injection of huge resources from television contracts means that even average players measure their wages in tens of thousands of dollars, pounds or euros a week if competing at the higher levels.

The most extraordinary aspect of Mathieu Flamini’s emergence as a businessman is the specialised nature of his growing company, GFBiochemicals. The production of sustainable levulinic acid and bioplastics seems far removed from the business activities sportsmen more commonly pursue.

Last month, on his Instagram account, he announced that GF (standing for Granata-Flamini) had obtained technology-enabled green chemistry company, Segetis.

In November, Flamini announced that GF had become the first company on the planet to mass produce Levulinic Acid (LA), which is said to be able to replace oil in all its forms.

“We are pioneers. We are opening a new market and it’s a market potentially worth £20 billion,” Flamini said.

How times have changed. In his autobiography, the late English football star of the post-Second World War period Len Shackleton, who repeatedly clashed with authority with a rebellious attitude that helped to limit his international career, famously devoted a blank page to a chapter entitled What the Average Director Knows About Football.

The average director could have retorted that footballers knew as little about business.

But the examples of Gyan and Flamini among others suggest that the more prudent of today’s handsomely rewarded stars are in a different league.

business@thenational.ae