The battle for Alstom was set to intensify on Tuesday, with Siemens ready to confirm its bid for the French engineering group also coveted by US rival General Electric, an informed source said.
French President Francois Hollande vowed on Monday to safeguard jobs at Alstom as he met with both GE and Siemens chiefs, while Germany sought to boost Siemens' case, saying a tie-up offered a "big opportunity" for Europe's two largest economies.
The case of Alstom – which builds high-speed trains and power stations – is highly politically sensitive as Hollande's Socialist government battles record high unemployment and declining competitiveness in industry.
The engineering giant is one of France's biggest private sector employers, with around 18,000 staff across the nation. Hollande said the French state would "inevitably have a say" in the case, underscoring that the government placed several orders with Alstom "in strategic sectors, especially energy".
The French leader met GE's CEO Jeffrey Immelt for an hour, pressing his case for jobs and for Alstom's French decision-making centre to be protected.
Hollande then met with Siemens boss Joe Kaeser for about an hour. The German behemoth was expected to confirm its bid on Tuesday, a source close to the talks told AFP.
Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg has promised a "patriotic" response to an expected bid by GE, aiming to keep Alstom's decision-making centre in France as well as protecting jobs and strategic energy interests.
Energy accounts for about 70 percent of Alstom's business, with the rest 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 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 told RTL radio that a bid from GE raised the fundamental problem that "the main part of Alstom – 75 percent of the businesses, 65,000 employees in the world – is going to be run from Connecticut".