Evening Update Wednesday 20 April

We are just hours away from one of the pivotal moments in this year’s presidential election in France when Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron debate live on national television tonight.

Five years ago, Le Pen was underprepared, outmanoeuvred and flustered during the televised debate, which ultimately cost her the election. At the time Macron had less profile and more promise, and the electorate gave him a chance.

Five years later, all has changed. Tonight the two candidates are much closer in the polls, and with voter turnout at the weekend expected to be low, turning just a few hundred thousand undecided voters could be the difference between victory or defeat.

The main points in tonight’s debate will include Le Pen’s economic policies, where she has promised to boost the spending power of the French people, rather than highlight the far-right’s policies on immigration, nationality and Islam. Her measures include cutting income tax for the under-30s and reducing or removing VAT on essential items. Macron is expected to question her heavily on this, as Le Pen has not said how she will pay for those proposals. Macron is also likely home in on Le Pen’s proposals to ban the Muslim headscarf and suspend benefit payments for immigrants.

In turn, Le Pen is expected to attack Macon’s track record at the Elysée and his attitude in power. The president has been described as being high-handed and showing disdain for the French people. His policy to raise the retirement age from 62 to 65 has also been deeply unpopular.

Many pundits say there are votes to be won in tonight’s debate, but ultimately it may come down to people voting for the person they dislike the least.

The two and a half-hour debate between Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron takes place on TF1 television at 9pm this evening.

The city of Nice has opened up a fourth anti-Covid vaccine dose to those aged sixty years or older. If six months have passed since your last booster shot, you are invited to the city's dedicated vaccination centres to be treated. While Nice has kept its dedicated vaccination centres open, Antibes and Grasse have chosen to administer further doses through the network of doctors and pharmacists.

In Monaco, the Rainier III Stade Nautique swimming pool will reopen in two weeks with a new ticketing system, pricing and access policy. From May 2nd, visitors must have a ticket or a name card to enter, and if you leave, you will have to pay to re-enter. The new entry cards will give users the opportunity to make purchases, recharge their balance, and book swimming lessons. In addition, the pool will become non-smoking with the exception of a landscaped area.

A French support vessel has been called to assist a yacht in distress in the Mediterranean. The yacht named Timeless was coming from Tunisia when it reported engine damage about sixty nautical miles west of Sardinia. The yacht, with seven crew on board, was towed to safety at the port of Alghero where it arrived this morning.

In Cannes, the Town Hall has begun accepting entries from residents to attend Film Festival screenings. One entry form per person can be registered on the city's website until May 14th, with the draw taking place on May 16th.

The Carlo Gift Voucher initiative in Monaco has been hailed a huge success by the Principality’s Government. Carlo is a payment app that rewards users with a 5% payment on local purchases. So far, 30,000 users have spent €13 million via the app which generated almost €1 million in cash rewards. In turn, these were injected back into the local economy. The government reaffirmed its commitment to support the 415 partner shops and restaurants by extending the benefits until June 30th.

And finally, Monegasque Formula 1 driver Charles Leclerc has had his €300,000 watch stolen in Italy. The driver had his watch snatched from him by a man, who pretended to be a fan asking for a selfie, before snatching the watch and running away. The watch is a RM 67-02 designed by Richard Mille in Monagasque colours with a white face and red bracelet. It’s described by the designer on their website as flat, light, automatic, colourful, elegant and sporting which can adapt to different situations.

BUSINESS

Netflix shares have taken a pummelling and lost 25% in value, after dropping from $348 a share yesterday, down to $258 today. It follows a weak financial report by the company late yesterday afternoon. One of the big problems facing Netflix is password sharing. The company estimates almost half of its 222 million subscribers share passwords with non-paying friends or family. The company has vowed to crack down on this, but converting even a small fraction of the 100m people sharing passwords to full paying customers, will not be an easy task. Particularly when many customers are looking for ways to save money, not spend more.

Procter & Gamble has raised its full-year sales forecast, as consumer demand for cleaning and personal healthcare products remains resilient despite rising prices. Sales in its fabric and home care unit rose 7% while health care products rose 13%. However, P&G warned that higher costs could dent its annual core earnings per share, which it now expects at the low-end of the 3% - 6% that was predicted in January.

European food delivery giant Just Eat is considering a sale of its US arm Grubhub, just one year after paying $7.3 billion to acquire the platform. Food delivery platforms are taking a hit in post-Covid world: Just Eats share price has fallen 70% in two years, while Deliveroo has fallen 56%.

SPORT

Football - All eyes are on Stade Louis II tonight for the key clash of the year between AS Monaco and OGC Nice. The match is not just about which local team are best … both teams need key points tonight in a race to finish in the top four of the league. Monaco, are currently sixth, so need a win to move up, while Nice is hoping to go third on the Ligue 1 table. Punters are backing AS Monaco for the win, as they are the home team and they have won their last four Ligue 1 games. The Monaco Nice match kicks off at Stade Louis II tonight at 7pm.

France international Paul Pogba is increasingly likely to leave Manchester United when his contract expires at the end of the season. It’s understood the player was hurt by the reaction of supporters who booed him off at Old Trafford last week. Several clubs, including Real Madrid and Juventus, are interested in a free transfer in the summer.

Rugby - Four French teams will compete in the Heineken Champions Cup quarter-finals, joined by two apiece from England and Ireland. The draw made this morning puts Munster against Toulouse, Leicester will play Leinster, Racing 92 take on Sale Sharks and the last quarter-final is an all-French affair with La Rochelle against Montpellier.  All games take place on the 7th and 8th of May.

Tennis - Wimbledon have taken the decision to ban players from Russia and Belarus from this years Grand Slam tournament in London. It means World No.2 Daniil Medvedev and other high profile players will not be able to take part. So far, the decision affects Wimbledon only and all players will still be able to compete at next month's French Open.

Andy Murray is to play at the Madrid Open next week after changing his mind about skipping the clay-court season and accepting a tournament wildcard. Murray is a two-time winner in the Spanish capital.

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