This may be the best kept "French corporate finance" secret that is now becoming available to a worldwide audience, namely Pierre Vernimmen's corporate finance textbook.
Why is that such a good news? Well, Pierre Vernimmen's famous Finance d'Entreprise whose first edition dates back 1976 (we are close to its 30th birthday!), has been the corporate finance bible of thousands of students and professors. For those who like simple comparisons, the Vernimmen (as they call it) is the equivalent for the French speaking community of the Brealey & Myers for the English speaking community.
Pierre Vernimmen was my colleague at HEC. I used to work quite closely with Pierre when I was chairing the Finance faculty and, then, the MBA programme. Sadly enough, Pierre passed away in 1996, the year I left the academic world, to join the investment banking world. Of course, as a faculty member I have taught corporate finance using Pierre's textbook. Pierre was a rare combination, especially at the time: he was a genuine academic (devoting a lot of energy finding elegant ways to make corporate finance appealing to students) and a shrewd investment banker who spearheaded Paribas's M&A activities (hint: he advised Louis Vuitton on its merger with Moët Henessy to create LVMH, the world luxury goods leader). His book was constantly revised, updated, improved and as a result has acquired a lasting monopoly position.
Pierre's untimely death has not stopped the process and some of his students who had become his colleagues at BNP-Paribas (and, guess what adjunct professor of finance at HEC) decided to take over the manuscript and continue its updating. Pierre is no longer there but he is survived by his textbook and the loyalty of his former students. I am sure Pierre would have more than 100% endorsed the new editions that followed his death. Indeed, Pascal Quiry and Yann Le Fur have done an outstanding job perpetuating Pierre's passion for corporate finance teaching.
Now, this gem of a book is available in English backed by an amazing website. This version is a team effort by Pierre's former students and co-authors of the French version Pascal Quiry and Yann Le Fur and newcomers Maurizio Dallocchio, Lehman Brothers Professor of Corporate Finance at Bocconi University (Milano) and Antonio Salvi. This French-Italian combination gives the book a truly European spirit. You don't find many books these days that apply both to European and Noth-American examples. This is what Richard Roll (UCLA) writes in his foreword to the book, adding that if he were teaching Corporate Finance in Europe this is the book he would use (did you know by the way that Richard Roll's famous CAPM criticism was written at HEC when he was visiting there, I still have the original version of the working paper!).
My personal view is that if I were teaching Corporate Finance in the US, this is the book I would use too (along with some other good references such as Damodaran)!