• France edition
 
Alstom: Hollande to meet rival US, German bidders
France's president will meet on Monday with US and German bidders for a French industrial giant. Photo: AFP

Alstom: Hollande to meet rival US, German bidders

Published: 28 Apr 2014 12:00 GMT+02:00
Updated: 28 Apr 2014 12:00 GMT+02:00

French President Francois Hollande, fighting to protect national interests in takeover target Alstom, is to meet rival bidders General Electric of the United States and German group Siemens on Monday, official sources said.

Hollande is to have separate talks with the top management of Siemens, which his government appears to favour as a partner for Alstom, and with the head of General Electric (GE), Jeffrey Immelt.

Hollande would also meet Martin Bouygues, the head of the key shareholder in Alstom, French construction, telecom and media firm Bouygues.

The high-level talks are part of a race by the French Socialist government to protect Alstom's decision-making centre in France, jobs, and strategic energy interests, in what Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg has described as a "patriotic" response to an expected bid by GE.

At the end of last week it emerged that GE was in advanced talks to buy Alstom's energy interests for about 10 billion euros ($14 billion).

Energy activities account for about 70 percent of Alstom's business, with the rest being focused mainly on making railway equipment including the TGV high-speed train.

GE already has big energy manufacturing activities in France, but Montebourg objected on Monday to the possibility that in a matter of days Alstom could made a decision to sell these to a US company which takes its decision in the state of Connecticut.

Montebourg said on French RTL radio that he would not accept that "Alstom, in three days, can decide to sell 75 percent of a national jewel behind the backs of the employees, of the government, of most of the board and of the senior executives."

He said: "French companies are not prey, however we are prepared to tie up alliances enabling us to face up to global competition."

"In the last few days we have taken several initiatives, the first being to reject a fait accompli," he added.

The minister said that a bid from GE raised a simple problem which was that "the main part of Alstom, 75 percent of the businesses, 65,000 employees in the world, is going to be run from Connecticut."

Alstom is under pressure because its main markets for power generation and rail equipment are expected to be weak in the next few years.

Its share price has fallen heavily in the last year, pushing Bouygues into loss, although Alstom shares jumped on the bid reports.

Economists say that Alstom is too small alongside giants such as GE and Siemens and that it is uncompetitive.

They also comment that the French government, since selling its stake in 2006, has little real control over what the Alstom board decides, and they tend to the view that strategically a deal with GE would have a better strategic fit than one with Siemens.

Ten years ago, when Alstom had to be rescued and was shorn of its shipbuilding interests, France cold-shouldered takeover interest from Siemens which is now believed to be interested in acquiring Alstom energy activities in exchange for handing the French group its own rail interests to create two giant, specialised European groups.

The French government, in a recent policy switch and amid growing signs that French industry is seriously uncompetitive, is proposing big cuts in planned public spending so as to relieve taxes on businesses, but faces strong opposition from its left wing in a crucial vote this week.

The case of Alstom is highly sensitive politically and is also seen as emblematic of deep strains in many parts of French industry.

Don't miss stories about France, join us on Facebook and Twitter

AFP/The Local (joshua.melvin@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
BREAKING NEWS
Helicopter crash in France leaves five dead
The map shows the town of Montbeliard, near where the helicopter came down on Thursday. Image: Google Maps

Helicopter crash in France leaves five dead

Five people were left dead and two others injured when a helicopter crashed in the garden of a suburban house in eastern France on Thursday. READ  

Sarkozy's seven ideas for how to save France
Sarkozy has come up with his plan of how to fix France. Photo: Eric Feferberg/AFP

Sarkozy's seven ideas for how to save France

Nicolas Sarkozy’s return to French politics continued apace this week when he presented his plan for how "hope" can be restored to France. We've narrowed his personal rescue package down to seven key proposals. READ  

JobTalk France - Job fair
Paris job fair opens with 10,000 posts up for grabs
There are 10,000 jobs up for grabs at the Paris Pour L'Emploi jobs fair this week. Photo: Bertrand Guay/AFP

Paris job fair opens with 10,000 posts up for grabs

Anyone within reach of Paris and in need of work could do worse than heading down to Place de la Concorde on Thursday and Friday, where 2,000 top recruiters will be taking CVs as part of the annual Paris Pour Emploi job fair. There are 10,000 jobs up for grabs. READ  

France moves step closer to plastic bag ban
Plastic bags will soon become a thing of the past in France. Photo: Jean-Philippe Ksiazek/AFP

France moves step closer to plastic bag ban

The prospect of a nationwide plastic bag ban in France moved a step closer this week with the proposal included in the government’s energy bill that was debated in Parliament. Paris is leading the race to be the country’s first plastic bag free city. READ  

France sends more fighter jets to fight Isis
France is sending more fighter jets to bomb Isis targets in Iraq, the country's military says. Photo: Alexander Klein/AFP

France sends more fighter jets to fight Isis

France confirmed this week that it will be sending more fighter jets to the Middle East to carry out air strikes against jihadists from Isis who have taken over large swathes of Iraq and Syria. READ  

Paris Fashion Week: Five trends to emerge
Was Mexican wrestling-style masks one of the trends to emerge from the Paris Fashion Week? Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

Paris Fashion Week: Five trends to emerge

Didn't manage to get a seat by the catwalk during this year's Paris Fashion week? No need to worry, here's five trends that emerged from the catwalks this week. READ  

Better to grow old in the UK and US than France?
Is it really better to grow old in the US and the UK than France? Plenty would disagree. Photo: Jazz Beaunola/Flickr

Better to grow old in the UK and US than France?

A new global study concludes pensioners have a better quality of life in the US and the UK than in France. This may come as a surprise to the thousands of retired expats who came to France to settle. So is the study wrong and where would you rather grow old? READ  

Paris tourism
Louvre and Versailles to open seven days a week
The Louvre in Paris will be open seven days a week in future. As will Versailles and the Musée d'Orsay.

Louvre and Versailles to open seven days a week

Three of France's most famous museums and art galleries - the Louvre, the Palace of Versailles and the Musee d'Orsay - will soon be open seven days a week, the government revealed on Wednesday. Many visitors may be surprised they aren't already open all week-round. READ  

Profile - A French 'executioner'?
Pot-smoking Frenchman is Isis 'executioner'
An image grab taken from a video uploaded on YouTube allegedly shows members of a Jihadist group affiliated to the jihadist group Isis. Photo: AFP

Pot-smoking Frenchman is Isis 'executioner'

The man accused by the US State department of carrying out executions for the Islamist extremist group Isis was a "fun-loving" Frenchman who enjoyed smoking weed and going out clubbing, according to this report. READ  

First ever class action lawsuit filed in France
A property management company is the target of France's first ever class action suit. Photo: Thomas Samson/AFP

First ever class action lawsuit filed in France

On the same day class action lawsuits became legal in France, a consumer watchdog group filed one of the collective proceedings against the country’s biggest landlord over the "illegal" fees it charges renters. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Travel
Paris museums to open seven days a week but unions are not happy
Culture
Caption contest: What happened when Jay Z met Sark O?
Marks & Spencer
Sponsored Article
Marks and Spencer: Win €300 toward your new autumn wardrobe
International
This explains why the French never seem to get a sense of déjà vu?
National
VIDEO: Here's a view from the Eiffel Tower you haven't seen before
Travel
Do Paris's iconic rooftops deserve Unesco World Heritage status?
Opinion
'France cannot reform, the pilots' strike showed us this'
National
'We just don’t work hard enough in France.' Is that true?
International
France has moved to beef up security in various public places
National
Hiking naked in France does not come risk-free
Culture
10 French customs that confuse Anglos
National
IN PICTURES: A look inside France's 'most notorious' prison
International
Isis urges killing of 'spiteful, dirty' French
National
Paris installs new device to stop 'love lock' craze
National
Paris cabby dies in vicious high-heel attack
National
'Paris is a sexy city, its beauty is inspiring'
Culture
Depardieu: ‘I drink 14 bottles of booze a day’
National
Top French chefs want banned bird on menu
National
VIDEO: Making of French rugby hunk calendar
National
Ten great bars in Paris only locals know about
Society
France's top expat tribes: Which are you?
National
France to set flat-rate for Paris airport taxis
Politics
French separatists want Scots to say 'yes'
National
Anti-dog poo offensive launched in French town
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se