Paris: The French state is to cut its shareholding in Paris airport operator ADP but will retain control, the finance minister said on Thursday in line with a new policy of reducing state holdings to raise money.

The minister, Pierre Moscovici, said that the state would sell up to 10 million shares, to help fund investment in areas of the economy with high potential.

On the basis of the closing price of shares in ADP on Wednesday this would raise €690 million ($895 million) for public finances, which are under severe pressure.

However, a sale of this nature is usually made at below the market price.

The state owns 54.5% of Aeroports de Paris and the strategic investment fund FSI owns 5.6%.

ADP operates notably Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, but also sells its airport management expertise around the world.

Moscovici said that the shares would be sold to long-term investors and outside usual market channels. The FSI would be invited to take part.

He said: “This procedure is part of the government’s drive for a policy of active management of state shareholdings which should enable the state to retain its assets and strategic interests while releasing resources in shareholder funds for new promising sectors of economic development."

In recent weeks, the state has reduced its holdings in the aerospace firm Safran for €448.5 million and in the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS which controls Airbus).

In total the state has raised €1.19 billion in this way.