Evening Update Wednesday 23 Feb 2022

French President Emmanuel Macron will launch his re-election bid on March 5th with an inaugural campaign rally in Marseille. Macron is favourite to come out on top in the first round of the election on April 10th, before a run-off vote two weeks later between the two top candidates.

Meanwhile far-left and far-right candidates are struggling to raise the 500 sponsorships to run for election. They include Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Marine Le Pen and Eric Zemmour. In an effort to present a balance vote to the electorate, many mayors across France are giving their sponsorships to candidates with whom they would normally disagree. The mayor of Saint-Raphaël has given his sponsorship to Marine Le Pen, while the mayor of Cannes gave his sponsorship to Jean Luc Mélenchon. Three other mayors in the Var have gone one step further by allotting their sponsorships by drawing lots.

The Government has reassured the senate that the crisis in Ukraine will not lead to fuel or gas shortages in France. Minister Barbara Pompili said that even if Russia were to stop its exports, which is not currently on the agenda, France will not run any risk of energy supply whether it is oil or gas. She said France imports less 2% of its gas supply from Russia. The government has also repeated its pledge to maintain the gas price freeze for individuals in all circumstances.

Commuters in Antibes and Sophia-Antipolis are advised a strike has been called on the local Envibus network, tomorrow Thursday 24th February. The action will affect all routes, except for school busses, between 9am and 4.30pm.

The period for aborting a pregnancy has been extended from twelve to fourteen weeks. The change was made by the National Assembly today after a campaign said that many women did not realise they were pregnant until after the legal deadline for a voluntary termination has passed.

The prison sentences against the men who kidnapped the owner of the Grand Hotel in Cannes and La Reserve restaurant in Nice have been appealed at the Assize Court in Aix-en-Provence today.  In 2016 Jacqueline Veyrac, who was 76 at the time, was kidnapped, tied up, and gagged before escaping two days later in Nice. The Advocate General is demanding the sentences of the kidnappers be increased to the most severe possible.

A man in his sixties is recovering after a traffic accident on the Boulevard du Midi between Cannes and Theoule-sur-Mer. The road was closed for a time around 12.30 as emergency services dealt with the incident and moved the man to Simon Veil Hospital in Cannes.

63 French billionaires are emitting as much greenhouse gas as that of 50% of the entire French population. That’s according to a report by Greenpeace and Oxfam entitled Billionaires are Burning the Planet. They say they are not referring to the lifestyle of the ultra-rich but their financial heritage, through their participation in polluting companies, which is the largest item in their total carbon footprint.

Registrations are now open to work at the Grand Prix in Monaco. As part of the 5th Monaco E-Prix on April 30th, the 13th Historic Monaco Grand Prix from May 13th to 15th and the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix at the end of May, the Automobile Club de Monaco is looking for people. To find out more and submit an application go to www.acm.mc

BUSINESS

The Russian rouble weakened again today, sliding past 80 to the dollar and 90 to the euro, as investors took stock of Western sanctions imposed on Russia. Ukraine's bonds have also suffered with their 2040 GDP linked-issue tumbling as much as 12.3 cents to 45.75. That is its worst daily drop since the bonds were first issued in 2015.

US President Joe Biden is being lobbied to push European leaders, to alter language in the proposed Digital Markets Act, so that it does not unfairly target US tech companies. There is a concern that the DMA would not seem to apply to large Chinese firms like Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent.

Barclays has announced a record annual profit for 2021, returning £2.5 billion pounds to shareholders via dividends and buybacks, as its investment bank continued its strong recent performance. Barclays reported a pre-tax profit of £8.4 billion pounds, almost triple the 3.1 billion from a year ago. The bank's shares rose 4% in early trading in London.

SPORT

Tennis - Alexander Zverev has been thrown out of the Mexican Open after he attacked the umpire's chair at the end of a doubles match. Germany's Zverev argued with the umpire during a decisive tie-break, striking the umpires chair with his racquet three times. He continued yelling and took another swing even as the umpire moved to climb down from his chair. Zverev, who was the defending champion in the singles event, will most likely face a hefty fine and even a possible suspension from the entire ATP tour.

Also in Mexico, French player Benoit Paire has been beaten 6-3,6-4 by Daniil Medvedev and Raphael Nadal has beaten American Denis Kudla 6-3 6-2. At the Tennis Championships in Dubai,  Andy Murray suffered a second-round exit as he was beaten by Jannik Sinner 7-5, 6-2. If he had won, it would have been Murray’s 700th career victory.

Basketball - AS Monaco’s play-off dreams are still alive after securing victory in the dying seconds of last nights game against Unics Kazan which ended 79-76. The win lifts Monaco back into eight place in the Euro League.

Six Nations - Wales have left Louis Rees-Zammit out of their squad to face England at Twickenham. Fit-again Josh Adams is contention to replace Rees-Zammit who will be released to play for Gloucester against Leicester on Saturday.

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