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GE wins French government's support for Alstom deal

The decision marks an end to weeks of intense bidding for the French company, which included GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt testifying before the French parliament.
By Ananth Baliga   |   June 20, 2014 at 3:41 PM   |   Comments

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PARIS, June 20 (UPI) -- French President François Hollande's government has backed General Electric's $13.5 billion bid to take over energy and transport company Alstom.

After an intense, weeks-long takeover battle with Siemens and Mitsubishi Heavy Industrial, the French government threw its support behind GE's proposed takeover offer that would see the government acquire a 20 percent stake in the company.

As per GE's revised bid Thursday, the company will enter into three joint ventures with Alstom for its steam turbines, renewable energy and electrical grid businesses, according to French Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg, who spoke at a press conference Friday.

Montebourg said that in return for Alstom's energy business, GE promised to sell its rail-signaling business for $1.4 billion, or €1 billion.

The French economy minister also thanked Siemens and Mitsubishi, who had launched a joint effort to acquire Alstom, for their interest and competing offers for Alstom.

"The discussion, the competition ensured that the interests of France were preserved," said Montebourg.

The French government's 20 percent would come from the Bouygues family, who are the single largest shareholders in the company, with a 29 percent stake. The government seems to have favored GE's bid because it gives them more control over the brand and retention of jobs, in addition to the future of French engineering.

"Alstom can be controlled and supported by the state," Montebourg added.

The Alstom board is expected to meet later Friday to discuss the offers and the government's endorsement of GE.

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