ABIE Annual Rentrée Dinner, with guest speaker Hervé Guillou

Welcome to the Abie rentrée dinner,” quipped ABIE President Bernard Tabary: ‘The climate between France and Australia is like the weather…it’s never been so warm!”.  And with a steamy 30°C+ outside, and ramped up exchanges between the two countries  – including four French ministerial visits programmed – he was right on both counts.

Sixty members and friends gathered on the shaded terrace of La Maison des Polytechniciens for a champagne cocktail on September Tuesday 11th September before moving into the elegant salons for a diner generously sponsored by Keolis.

Suntanned after the summer holidays, it was a relaxed crowd that included François Heritor, Executive Director, Head FX Sales Europe,  Commonwealth Bank of Auastralia, ABIE Annual Sponsor and his colleague Lachlan Evans, who came over from London. As did new ABIE member Agent General for WA Michael Deeks, attending an ABIE France event for the first time. Two other guests who traveled to Paris for the Rentrée dinner were David Demetrious, President of Emadin SA and member of the Board of ABIE Belgium and Richard York a member of the Board of ABIE Czech. Bernard Tabary also welcomed new ABIE members Sarah Temple-Boyer, Peter O’Shea and Frederik Cornu.

In his welcome speech, Australian Ambassador and Honorary President of ABIE, Brendan Berne echoed Bernard Tabary’s comment on the importance of the relationship between France and Australia, referring in particular to French President Emmanuel Macron’s recent visit to Australia and several French Ministerial visits in coming months: “These high-level exchanges speak to the depth, breadth and quality of our relationship with France”.

He noted Australia’s 3.5 GDP growth, and commented on the Free Trade Agreement with France which is under negotiation.  In conclusion the Ambassador thanked ABIE for the role it plays in the Franco-Australian business community: “I’d like to thank ABIE for having a hand on the wheel that moved things forward.”

Hervé Guillou, Chairman and CEO of Naval Group and Chairman of the France-Australia Business Council of MEDEF International gave the keynote speech. In specific detail he outlined the complex negotiations of the $A50 billion contract to build 12 submarines in South Australia.

Mr Guillou described the programme as “the most ambitious in the world”, adding that for the first time it involved not just the technology but the “why”, to develop in Australia an advanced and parallel evolution of technology.  This included the ability of a submarine to detect another sub before it could be detected itself.  Underpinning this was the target of both countries, he said, the sovereignty of the seas.  “We have all the same problem :  the contestation of the waters. “Working this way  demands us not only to succeed”, M. Guillou said, “but to transform, to change our organization.

The first submarine will be launched in 2032, and the last to in 2054, with the maintenance contract spanning 50 years.  Mr Guillou also spoke to the important business potential for subcontractors during this project.

All in all  it was a great kick off for the last quarter, to launch the interesting programme of events planned for the remainder of 2019.