The investment vehicle, to be managed by France’s Casisse des Dépôts et Consignations (CDC), will be open to outside investors willing to commit to long-term partnerships, said Augustin de Romanet de Beaune, head of CDC.

“If the sovereign funds of China, Singapore and the Middle East want to come and invest with us, to become co-investors, they are welcome,” he told the Financial Times.

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French president Nicolas Sarkozy, who launched the fund, has been vocal in his concern about sovereign wealth fund investments in Europe, prompting allegations of protectionism from many quarters, including former EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson.

The new fund has sparked fresh fears in the European Community of increasing protectionism.