This was supposed to be an easy year for M&A in France. A business-friendly government, the prospect of a Brexit-related influx of investment and the availability of plentiful financing at low interest rates all promised to keep the deal pipeline full and M&A teams busy at firms of all sizes.

That was before COVID-19 took easy off the table and replaced it with complicated and unpredictable. The battle in France against the novel coronavirus pandemic entered a critical phase this month that is expected to last eight to 12 weeks, at least. A nationwide lockdown that started March 17 is likely to be extended beyond its initial 15 days.

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