GE moves closer in race for Alstom power assets

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Siemens said it had decided to make an offer provided it was given access to Alstom’s data, as well as “permission to interview the management during a period of four weeks”.

Industry veterans say Alstom and Siemens have very different corporate cultures, and have competed aggressively against one another for decades, while analysts questioned whether there was any real sense in Siemens going up against a binding bid.

“It makes sense (for Siemens) to take this opportunity to learn about Alstom’s activities,” said analyst Pierre Boucheny of financial services group Kepler Cheuvreux. “This position doesn’t imply necessarily the offer will be made.”

Siemens declined to comment on Alstom’s statement on the GE offer. German magazine Der Spiegel reported that Siemens had written to Alstom to complain about a lack of cooperation on the part of its chief executive Patrick Kron, who they said was not interested in direct talks.

Montebourg told parliamentarians his objections had halted what he called an over-hasty rush by GE and Alstom to clinch a deal. But he was more circumspect on how the government would seek to influence the review period for the U.S. offer.

He noted explicitly Alstom’s promise that the review would take into account “all stakeholders’ interests including the French state” and said it would examine a request by unions to raise its small 1 percent stake in the group – an option which the government spokesman later said was not on the table.

However, he said the readiness of GE to leave under French control turbine assets vital to France’s nuclear sector – which generates 75 percent of the country’s power needs – meant France could not invoke strategic interests to block the deal.

Hollande, whose poll ratings are at record lows due to his failure to tackle unemployment stuck at above 10 percent, has said the government will place a priority on preserving jobs.

But unions remained unconvinced. “This dismantling is totally unacceptable,” said Laurent Santoire, a delegate for the CGT trade union among those protesting outside Alstom’s HQ near Paris. “We are asking for the state to increase its stake in Alstom.” (Reuters)