GE sent a top executive to Paris on Friday as it works to save a $17bn deal to buy Alstom’s energy business.

The French government introduced legislation midweek, entailing a decree giving itself the power to block the deal, on the grounds of protecting key national strategic interests. They allow the government to veto foreign investment in energy, water, transport and other sectors deemed strategic to the country.
Immelt
The move has meant GE is attempting to modify and sweeten its existing deal, with the Wall Street Journal speculating that it will transfer operations to bulk up the part of Alstom that the US company is leaving behind.

WSJ also reports that GE sent a letter to French President François Hollande this month, with Chief Executive Jeff Immelt (right) offering to consider taking on French investors in Alstom’s hydropower unit, to sell Alstom’s wind- power unit to French investors and to explore a joint venture involving Alstom and GE’s railroad-signalling businesses.

GE also suggested that it could make concessions regarding Alstom’s nuclear technology to assuage French concerns about losing control of an industry from which the country derives much of its electricity.

“We appreciate the importance of the energy sector to France, and we will continue to have open and productive discussions with the government,” GE said after the decree was issued.

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