Remember corporate Europe? It wants to be noticed again


WHEN Emmanuel Macron first started work as a mergers-and-acquisitions banker at Rothschild in Paris in 2008, technicians of the trade were not impressed. “He did not know what EBITDA was,” sniffed a former colleague, according to the Financial Times (it is a measure of company profits). Yet Mr Macron had ideas and made things happen, and four years later persuaded Nestlé to spend $12bn buying Pfizer’s nutrition business.

Now that he is France’s president, Mr Macron is trying to revive the grandest idea of all in European business: creating continental champions capable of taking on American and Chinese firms. It is an ambitious mission that will prove highly frustrating.

Mr Macron laid out his vision at the Sorbonne in Paris in September, promising a “re-foundation of Europe”, and that he would bolster its “industrial and monetary power”. The same day Alstom, a French transport firm, agreed to merge with the transport arm of Siemens, a German…