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France

GE Alstom bid 'not sufficient', Hollande

French President François Hollande
French President François Hollande Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes

General Electric’s offer for French firm Alstom’s energy arm is “not enough”, President François Hollande declared on Tuesday. Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg expressed concern about the “isolation” of Alstom’s rail transport interests, in a letter to the US company Monday.

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“The offer is not enough so it is not acceptable,” Hollande said in an interview with BFMTV and RMC radio, adding that the French government has “enough clout to ensure that at the end of the process it’s good for Alstom, good for French industry and good for energy diversification”.

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The government is justified in intervening because it is in charge of public-sector orders with Alstom, Hollande said.

Earlier, in a letter to GE, Montebourg called for a “balanced partnership” and said he was worried about "the separation and isolation of the branch of Alstom specialised in rail transport" if GE only buys the energy arm.

The government "wishes to examine the ways and means of a balanced partnership, rejecting a pure and simple acquisition that would lead to the demise of Alstom", he wrote.

GE has bid for Alstom’s energy interests, which comprise 70 per cent of its activities, but the company is also well known for making the TGV high-speed train.

"We appreciate the engagement of the French government,” a GE statement said. “We believe our proposal is good for France, for Alstom and for GE. As our letter to President Hollande stressed, we are open to continuing dialogue.”
 

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