French government acknowledges improved GE deal on Alstom

GE Alstom

The French government has recognised an improved offer from General Electric, following a meeting between that company’s chief executive, Jeff Immelt and President Hollande.

“Today we can see that GE’s offer has been detailed, improved, strengthened,” said an official at Mr Hollande’s office, adding that there was still “some work to be done”.
A softer stance on the GE (NYSE:à‚ GE) bid from the French government has also been noted. GE said it had had “a constructive discussion about the details of our proposed alliance with Alstom” with government ministers.

“We have made progress and look forward to the conclusion of this process in the next few weeks,” the company said in a statement.

Immelt is reported to have said he would create an additional 1,000 jobs for the firm if GE, rather than a forthcoming Siemens offer, is accepted. Should the deal go ahead, the jobs will be created within three years.

He told the lower house of France’s parliament on Wednesday that, “GE has committed to grow employment levels in France with a focus on high value jobs like manufacturing and engineeringࢀ¦ I believe there’s more we can do to develop small and medium enterprises that support the power industry.”

Meanwhile the German cartel office has said any possibility of a Siemens Alstom deal would have to go before the European Commission to test its compliance with competition laws.

Siemens told French lawmakers yesterday that it hoped to submit an asset swap offer which would hand the German engineering company most of Alstom’s power assets in exchange for giving up control of its trains business.

However Andreas Mundt, president of the German cartel office told the Duesseldorf Economic Publisher’s Association, “This would certainly be a case for the Commission.”

As a rule of thumb, EU antitrust authorities get involved in any deal involving companies with combined revenues of more than 5 billion euros ($6.8 billion), he added.

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