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The Largest French Companies in the U.S.

In addition to their strong political relationship, France and the United States also enjoy mutually beneficial economic ties, which support jobs and innovation in both countries.

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Largest French Companies in the U.S.

In addition to their strong political relationship, France and the United States also enjoy mutually beneficial economic ties, which support jobs and innovation in both countries. This translates to a number of benefits for their citizens. For one, French citizens looking to be employed in the U.S. may get a visa sponsorship by a French company in the States. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the largest French companies with operations in the United States. 

France and U.S. Bilateral Economic Relations Overview 

The French Treasury in the U.S. reports that France and the U.S. had traded an excess of $129 billion in goods and services as of 2018. This represents a 7.9 % increase from the trade value recorded in the previous year. 

France is also the 6th largest foreign investor in the U.S. with a whopping $326.4 billion of French foreign direct investment(FDI) stock. On the other hand, the U.S. is the number one source of foreign investment for France with around $86.9 billion FDI stock.

In terms of job opportunities, France is ranked number three on the list of largest foreign sources of employment in the U.S., employing over 700,000 people in the states. The manufacturing sector accounts for over 200,000 of those jobs. Conversely, American companies employ over 500,000 people in France.

Lastly, France is the top source of  R&D in electronics and IT-related products and services in the U.S., with French affiliated firms investing an excess of $5 billion in R&D annually. Similarly, the United States is the number one source of foreign R&D overall in France. 

There’s a French Company in Every U.S. State

According to French-English print magazine, France-Amérique, every American state is home to at least one French company. From well-known brands like Louis Vuitton, Sodexo and Saint-Gobain, to industry giants like Airbus and Michelin, these companies are actively contributing to the U.S. economy. 

Global gas provider, Air Liquide and institutional catering services supplier, Sodexo both have offices in all 50 U.S. states. Multinational insurance giant, Axa is present in 32 states, while popular tire manufacturer Michelin is represented in 8 states. Agri-food company Bel has branches in 4 U.S. states. 

Here’s a quick snapshot of the footprint of French companies in the United States:

  • The states of New Jersey and New York top the list of importers of French products into the United States.

  • The biggest exporters of products to France are Texas and California;  the products they ship mainly cater to the energy sector.

  • Kentucky imported around 2.7 billion dollars of products in 2017, composed mostly of automobile construction parts. In the same year, the state of Ohio brought in around 1.68 billion dollars worth of products from France. 

  • Also in 2017, French companies in New Jersey and Oklahoma accounted for the most jobs created. 

You can read the full report here.

Top French Companies in the United States 

Here are 10 of the largest French companies with operations in the United States, in no particular order: 

Total Groupe -- Oil, Gas and Energy 

As the fourth-largest oil and gas company in the world, Total Groupe operates in the U.S.  through Total Specialties USA, Inc, which is headquartered in Houston, Texas. This company is one of the Marketing and Services Branch of the Total Group in the Americas Division. Total is active across the States in several business segments, including exploration & production, renewable energies, gas & power and refining & chemicals. The only exception to its services in the U.S. is retail fuel. 

The company is also committed to community outreach initiatives across the country with the aim of promoting education and social inclusion. Total began operating in the U.S. in 1957 and currently has over 6700 employees. Its California Valley Solar Ranch photovoltaic power plant powers over 100,000 homes nationwide. The organization aims to set itself apart through innovative solutions geared towards supplying affordable energy and addressing climate change. 

Veolia -- Environmental Solutions

This French transnational company deals in three main services -- water treatment, waste management and sustainable energy. It operates in the U.S. through Veolia North America and is headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts. The focus of the company is on transforming water, waste and energy into valuable resources, essentially replenishing global consumption while also addressing environmental and sustainability challenges. 

Veolia was originally listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) but its American Depositary Receipts (ADRs) were delisted in 2014. However, these ADRs are still traded in the U.S. through the over-the-counter market and using the code VEOEY. In 2019, the company sold its district energy assets, which included water and electricity production plants in 10 U.S. cities, to Antin Infrastructure Partners for $1.25 Billion. 

Safran -- Aeronautics and Defense 

Having operated in the United States for the greater part of four decades, Safran Groupe operates through Safran USA, which is headquartered in Washington, Virginia. The company is a key supplier of aircraft engines, propulsion systems and defense products to the U.S. industry, which includes the U.S. government, the U.S, armed forces and commercial airlines. Safran USA currently has the largest global footprint outside of France, with around 14,000 employees across 25 states. Additionally, the company has a number of design and development facilities, manufacturing and production plants, and service centers that provide repair and after-sales services.

Thanks to its long-standing and successful relationships, Safran Groupe is able to generate as much as 25% of its global revenues in the U.S. market alone. The company continues to grow and as of 2017, already had 850 patents filed. Safran also leads the industry in turbine engines for helicopters and commercial airlines, as well as in landing gear and flight control systems. 

Louis Vuitton Moët Hennesy (LVMH) -- Luxury Goods and Beverages 

LVMH is a French multinational corporation and conglomerate that was formed in 1987 with the merger of popular fashion line, Louis Vuitton and Moët Hennessy. The organization has expanded significantly over the years and currently controls 60 subsidiaries that deal with luxury goods and choice beverages. 

Renowned luxury fashion line, Dior is the main holding company of LVMH holding over 40% of its shares and majority voting rights as well. This is because the majority shareholder of Dior is also the chairman of both companies. 

In the U.S. Louis Vuitton, Moët Hennesy and Dior are all headquartered in New York. These brands do not require lengthy introduction since they are practically household names. Louis Vuitton North America boasts more than 500 stores across the U.S. and contributed around 20% of LVMH global sales in 2012. 

L'Oréal -- Personal Care Products 

Formerly known as Cosmair, Inc., L’Oréal USA is a subsidiary of French company, the L’Oréal Group and was established in 1953. Its U.S. headquarters is located in New York, though the company opened a second HQ in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey back in 2009. L’Oréal USA has nearly 11,000 employees across the States and reported a $7.5 billion revenue in 2018. 

The company boasts a lineup of 32 brands, including popular names like Drakkar Noir, Giorgio Armani Parfums and Cosmetics, SoftSheen-Carson and Maybelline New York. Its wide array of personal care products are available in just about every department store, beauty salon and dermatology office all over the country. Additionally, ⅔ of the products sold in the States are manufactured in the country thanks to its five manufacturing facilities in Arkansas, Kentucky, New Jersey and Washington. L’Oréal USA also boasts distribution facilities across the U.S.

Michelin -- Tires and Wheels 

It’s safe to assume that everyone knows about Michelin. The French multinational tire manufacturer is the second largest in the world and operates in the U.S. through Michelin North America, Inc., which is headquartered in Greenville, South Carolina. The company designs, manufactures and sells tires for just about every kind of vehicle out there. They even cater to airplanes, space shuttles and heavy-duty machinery. 

Michelin is also famous for its travel guides and the star award system for top notch restaurants. In 2018, Michelin North America, Inc. won the Best Large Employer in America award by Forbes. Its total sales in North America in 2018 was around $9.6 Billion. It is also included in the Fortune Global 500 and has won the “Recommended Best Buy” category by Consumer Reports.

Axa S.A. --  Insurance and Related Financial Services 

Equitable is the American arm of Axa S.A. and is headquartered in New York. The company was founded in 1959, but sold majority control to Axa in 1991. Then, it was known as The Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States and took on the new name Axa Equitable Life Insurance Company, by 2004.  By 2018, the company already had nearly 16000 agents licensed by the State of California. 

Following a successful initial public offering in 2018 and a second offering in 2019, Axa Equitable Life Insurance Company was able to buy back significant controlling power. In January 2020 it dropped the AXA from its name and switched to Equitable.  There is still a certain degree of French control though, albeit for the time being. 

BNP Paribas S.A. -- International Banking

The American arm of BNP Paribas is located in New York and has been operating since the late 1800s. It has since grown into the BNP Paribas’ largest market after France. The bank currently has a workforce of over 16,000 employees in North America and is a major hub for the group’s global banking network that spans across 73 countries.

BNP Paribas maintains close relationships with the sports sector, particularly tennis. It is a major supporter of tennis events in the U.S. and has been the title sponsor of the BNP Paribas Open since 2009. This prestigious event is second only to the Grand Slams in terms of popularity, coverage and attendance. 

Saint-Gobain -- Manufacturing and Construction 

Saint-Gobain has over 150 locations and more than 15,000 employees in North America. It began operations in the 1880s, a few hundred years after the Saint-Gobain group first launched in France. Its head office is located in Malvern, Pennsylvania. In 2017, the company reported sales across the U.S. and Canada in excess of $6 billion. 

The company supplies a wide variety of high-performance materials and designs to the global manufacturing and construction industries. Their products are so ubiquitous that there’s a very good chance that you’ve come across tons of them in your home, office, school, hospital, malls and even in transportation. The company recently won the award for Top Employers in the United States and in North America. 

Airbus -- Airline Manufacturer 

Airbus has a major presence in North America -- two engineering centers in Kansas and Alabama, two state-of-the-art training centers in Florida and Colorado, and more than 2,500 single-aisle and wide-body jetliners manufactured for North American customers alone. As of 2019, Airbus was the largest airliner manufacturer in the world. Looking to the future, Airbus anticipates the demand for carriers in North America will reach over 5,600 aircraft over the next few decades.

Airbus Americas, Inc. is headquartered in Herndon, Virginia and an office in Washington D.C., which hosts the Airbus Experience, a collection of exhibitions showcasing the company’s role across various U.S. industries.  

Conclusion

If you’re a foreign national looking to work in the U.S. with a French company, any of these organizations may be able to sponsor your visa application. Which one you eventually apply for will depend on a number of factors, such as the nature of your profession and the duration of your intended stay in the U.S. 

While planning to migrate to the States, you should also consider how your living situation will be when you get here. Access to basic necessities like credit cards, apartment rentals, car leases and even utilities often hinges on having a U.S. credit score. The Credit Passport® by Nova Credit will be hugely beneficial in translating your international credit history into a U.S.-equivalent score which creditors and lenders can then use to evaluate your application for these credit products. 

With Nova Credit, you can also have access to a lineup of helpful newcomer products, such as American Express®, apartment guarantors and auto loan providers. Get in touch with us today to learn more about how we can help you arrive and thrive in the U.S. or visit our resource library for more helpful guides. 

Nova Credit works with credit bureaus across several countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Nigeria, India, South Korea, Mexico and the UK.

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