• France's news in English

Alstom approves €12.35b bid from General Electric

AFP/The Local · 30 Apr 2014, 08:44

Published: 30 Apr 2014 08:44 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The Alstom board voted on Tuesday to approve a €12.35 billion bid for its energy arm by US group General Electric over a rival offer from German engineering giant Siemens.

The offer was approved after the board met following an announcement by Siemens that it had decided to make an offer for the energy wing of the French engineering company, which is also known for making TGV trains.

A statement from Alstom said the influx ofcash would allow the group to "concentrate on its transport activities for which it is a global leader" and to repay its debt, which amounts to €3 billion. Shareholders would also get a bonus.

The offer will now be examined in detail over the nexxt month by an independent committee, whi will take into account the interests of all stakeholders, including the French state, Alstom's board said.

The fate of the French group was suddenly put into play last week when it emerged that it was in advanced talks with GE.

News that the company, which has been termed a French "national jewel", could fall into American hands provoked an angry response from French Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg.

He reproached Alstom head Patrick Kron in strong terms for not informing the government of takeover talks, accusing him of deliberately keeping him in the dark.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Alstom was "of national strategic importance" and stressed the government would keep a watchful eye over offers.

However some analysts say the French government are simply making a lot of "noise" becasue the issue is so sensitive but deep down they accept that Alstom's shareholders will ultimately decide its fate.

Alstom: Intervention by French government is all 'noise'

Earlier on Tuesday, Siemens said it had decided to make an offer to Alstom but gave no details of its intended bid.

But the German behemoth said it was conditional on it being granted access to the French company's books and the green light to quiz management.

According to a preliminary proposal sent at the weekend to Alstom, seen by AFP but not confirmed by the German company, Siemens offered to buy Alstom's energy business and give the French giant part of its train activities in return.

Economists say Alstom is too small alongside giants such as GE and Siemens and that it is uncompetitive.
A 'big opportunity' -
The latest announcements come a day after Siemens chief Joe Kaeser met French President Francois Hollande in Paris for what the chief executive called "a very open, trustful and amicable exchange".
In unusually frank remarks about company strategy, the German government on Monday said a possible tie-up between the French and German groups offered a "big opportunity" for both countries.
It would present "great potential in terms of industrial policy for Germany and France", a spokesman for the economy ministry said in response to reporters' questions.

In a letter to the French presidency Tuesday, a copy of which was seen by AFP, GE stressed its desire to create a "world leader in energy in France" and create jobs in the country

France's Financial Markets Authority (AMF) called on Alstom to make known the details of the offers before the bourse opens on Wednesday.

Hollande, who also met the head of GE Monday, has vowed to safeguard jobs at Alstom, which is one of France's biggest private sector employers with about 18,000 staff across the country.

A national jewel 

The battle for the French company is politically sensitive as Hollande's Socialist government battles record high unemployment and declining industrial competitiveness.
During his hour-long meeting with GE's chief executive Jeffrey Immelt, the French leader pressed his case for jobs and for Alstom's French decision-making centre to be protected.
Hollande has said that the French state would "inevitably have a say" in the case and that the "sole criterion" in choosing the successful bidder would be which one "would be the best in creating more business and jobs".
Montebourg bristled Monday at the possibility that in the space of three days, Alstom "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".
Story continues below…
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.

AFP/The Local (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France to clear 'Jungle' migrant camp Monday
Migrants will be bussed from the camp to some 300 temporary accommodation centres around France. Photo: Denis Charlet/ AFP

The "Jungle" migrant camp on France's northern coast will be cleared of its residents on Monday before being demolished, authorities said Friday.

How life for expats in France has changed over the years
A market in Eymet, southwestern France. Photo: AFP

Foreigners in France explain how life has changed over the years.

London calling for Calais youths, but only a chosen few
Photo: AFP

Dozens of Calais minors are still hanging their hopes on help from the UK, but not all will be so lucky.

17 different ways to talk about sex in French
Photo: Helga Weber/Flickr

Fancy a quick run with the one-legged man?

Yikes! This is what a rat-infested French jail looks like
Photo: YouTube/France Bleu TV.

This video is not for sufferers of ratophobia (or musophobia as the condition is officially called).

France to allow Baby Jesus in Town Halls this Christmas
Photo: AFP

Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus are safe to go on display again this year, it seems.

National Front posts locations of migrants in French town
The National Front courts controversy. Photo: AFP

"Local tax payers have a right to know," says local far-right party chief.

Paris thieves use tear gas to steal €500,000 of watches
Photo: AFP

The thieves pretended to be couriers then threatened staff with tear gas to get the watches.

Bataclan survivor recounts attack in chilling drawings
Photo: BFMTV screengrab

One survivor has recounted the horrific night through illustrations.

Anger among French police grows as Hollande vows talks
French police demonstrate on the Champs Elysées. Photo: AFP

A fourth night of protests shows government efforts to ease anger among French police have been fruitless.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
Twelve French insults we'd love to have in English
What's on in France: Ten of the best events in October
jobs available