Wind of change at AFEP: Patricia Barbizet is to become the first woman to take the helm of the French Association of Private Companies (AFEP) on July 1st, after a long career within the Pinault galaxy.

"After examining all the candidates and potential personalities, the board (of directors of AFEP) has unanimously appointed Ms. Patricia Barbizet to succeed Mr. Laurent Burelle," said the association, which brings together 117 of the largest France firms. The Chairman of the Board of Directors of the automotive supplier Plastic Omnium had chaired AFEP since May 2017.

Currently president of the investment company Temaris et Associés, which she founded, Patricia Barbizet "has already sat on the board of AFEP, from 2014 to 2018," the statement added.

Former boss of Artemis

Above all, the future boss of Afep, aged 67 and familiar with the boards of directors of large groups, has long been at the head of Artemis, the investment company of the Pinault family to which she is very close.

Until 1 July, Patricia Barbizet will remain Chairman of the High Committee on Corporate Governance (HCGE). This body is responsible for ensuring the proper application of the Afep-Medef code, a set of recommendations that is a reference within French employers.

Published in December 2022, the latest version of this code suggests for the first time calculating the remuneration of big bosses "by integrating several criteria related to social and environmental responsibility".

Business lobby

A discreet but influential circle, AFEP was founded in 1982 by businessman Ambroise Roux and has since made it its mission to push the interests of large French companies to national and European political leaders.

At present, the main French employers' organisations are run by men, notably the Mouvement des entreprises de France (Medef). After a single five-year mandate, its president Geoffroy Roux de Bézieux will however hand over the reins in the summer.

Three candidates for the position, which has also never been held by a woman, have officially declared: the current N.2 Patrick Martin, the vice-president and spokesperson of Medef Dominique Carlac'h and the deputy president of the French Security Federation Pierre Brajeux.

Others, such as the president of the Alsatian branch of Medef Olivier Klotz, could follow in the coming weeks.

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