Doubtless through a sense of discretion, François Fillon does not like to broadcast his friendships and contacts in the world of business. Even less so when it comes to the French insurance group AXA. It was only when he was forced to do it that the right-wing candidate for the presidential election cast aside his normal reticence and admitted in December to his ties to with the group’s former chief executive officer Henri de Castries. At the time, Fillon’s plans to privatise a section of the French social security system were causing a major controversy. The former prime minister insisted that while Castries was his friend, he was in no way behind the plan that would break up the social security system to the benefit of insurance companies.
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