France's Benoit Puga tests private sector waters at Geomines and Erys
Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande's former private military chief of staff is starting to pick up contracts in the private sector.
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French president Emmanuel Macron has been trying to use his close, personal relations with Abu Dhabi's ruler, Mohammed bin Zayed, to attract the emirate's sovereign funds. Among them, Mubadala has nevertheless decided to keep its European operations centre in London.
The international relations department of the French armed forces ministry, which likes to carry out long studies involving several outside contractors, has issued a tender call for a new study of three countries in the Levant region, which it describes without qualms as "failed states".
The reform of France's external intelligence service, the DGSE, which was published on 16 July, looks to have signed the death warrant of its intelligence department, Direction du Renseignement (DR). Former DR executives remain as influential as ever, however, in the new structure.
France's internal and external intelligence agencies have begun drawing up plans for their future headquarters, to be located at either end of Paris. Both are now in the process of selecting constructors for these two major public contracts.
France's national intelligence and counter-terrorism coordinator, who has long had a marginal role, has been given a position of new authority in the intelligence community. The holder of the post, former junior interior minister Laurent Nunez, recently won a ruling from prime minister Jean Castex which gives him authority over ministries previously used to acting independently on intelligence questions.
Unlike previous presidential polls, the Elysée is mobilising intelligence services on an unprecedented scale to secure the next election. Behind France's dedicated new agency Viginum, the DGSE, the DGSI and Tracfin are actively trying to prevent new foreign interferences.
With four months to go before the French presidential elections, Sahar and Storyzy, two start-ups backed in their early days by the French armed forces ministry, are leading the field for contracts to equip the DGSI and Viginum - the second on the advice of the first - with cyber systems to fight fake news.