On 20 November, the French embassy organised a conference on the investment potential of properties in France. The conference was held in collaboration with investment experts from two French banks, BNP Paribas and Societe Generale, as well as King & Spalding Law Firm.
The conference was attended by representatives from major investment firms in Kuwait, both institutional, such as KIA, KFH, Boubyan Bank, GIC, KAMCO and Markaz, as well as private firms such as Action Group, Ahli Capital, Al Qatami-Tesnem, Boukhamseen, Injazzat, KIC and Tamdeen.
Speaking at the conference, the French Ambassador to Kuwait, H.E. Marie Masdupuy said that the vibrant French property market is worth over KD100 billion, and that Paris lies at its heart. She added that under French President Emmanuel Macron the country had improved its business environment for foreign investors and its economy is set to grow faster in 2019 and 2020 than its immediate neighbors.
Larry Young from BNP Paribas highlighted the key metrics of the French markets and the very good conditions for investing in France (high demand and liquidity, stable prime yields, capital value, major developments on-going), not just in Paris but also in the main French regional cities, such as Lyon, Lille, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Marseille, and Nantes. Charles-Emmanuel de Beauregard from Societe Generale emphasized the competitive financing solutions, conventional and Islamic-compliant, available for foreign investors, both for assets and share deals, brownfield and greenfield investments.
Jawal Ali and Michael Rainey from King & Spalding addressed the key issue of taxation. They stressed that when it came to taxes it was a level-playing field between the UK and France as both had similar levels of tax burden. But, in France there were special income deductibility schemes that were not available in the UK.
They also stressed that Kuwait and France had a bilateral tax treaty since 1982, which guarantees no taxation on dividends paid from a non-resident Kuwaiti real estate asset company in France to its parent company in Kuwait, which is a unique advantage for Kuwaiti investors. In addition, there was no taxation on capital gains from selling a property asset, for major Kuwaiti government-linked investors (CBK, KIA, PIFSS…).
On a separate note, Arnaud Boulanger, French embassy economic counsellor, underlined the investment opportunities around the Greater Paris Project, the largest urban development project in Europe. He also stressed the Greater Marseille Euromed Project, the largest urban renovation project in the Mediterranean area, and added that it would reshape the size and reach of Marseille.