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GE offers to create 1,000 jobs in France if Alstom deal agreed

GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt (R), senior vice-president for corporate business development John Flannery and Franch boss Clara Gaymard (L) leave the Elysée after meeting President François Hollande
GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt (R), senior vice-president for corporate business development John Flannery and Franch boss Clara Gaymard (L) leave the Elysée after meeting President François Hollande Reuters/Christian Hartmann

General Electric (GE) has promised to create 1,000 jobs in France if it buys the energy arm of French company Alstom, sources told the media after a meeting between the US company”s boss, Jeffrey Immelt, and President François Hollande on Wednesday morning.

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The offer could be a deal-breaker in negotiations in which the French government has so far preferred Siemens, although the German company has shown less enthusiasm than GE so far.

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GE has offered to take on 1,000 extra staff in the industrial sector in the three years following the signing of the deal, sources on Wednesday toldLe Monde newspaper and the AFP news agency, while Siemens has only promised to keep employment at its present level.

Immelt has promised that France will become an international centre for the production of alternative energy, repeating an earlier commitment to situate its world headquarters for hydroecletricity, offshore wind and steam power here when he addressed MPs on Tuesday.

He also said he would allow France’s authorities “privileged access” to the best turbines for French nuclear reactors, which provide the bulk of the country’s electricity - an answer to the government's concerns about energy security.

Siemens Alstom’s power activities at 10.5-11 billion euros, while GE is offering 12.35 billion euros and has so far only committed itself to submitting an offer by 16 June.

Last week GE extended the life of its offer by three weeks to 23 June to allow time to win over the French government.

Siemens management is reported to be divided over whether to pitch, partly because of a corruption case against Alstom in the US, according to the Mediapart website.

The same day as GE made its offer for Alstom the French company’s Asia vice-president was arrested in the Virgin Islands on corruption charges, the site says.

He is accused of bribing Indonesian politicians to win a contract in a case in which two other Alstom executives, Frédéric Pierucci and William Pomponi, have already pleaded guilty, according to Médiapart.

Siemens, which has already paid an 800-million-dollar (588-million-euro) fine for corruption in the US, may be reluctant to take on another case, business lawyer Stéphane Bonifassi told Mediapart.

Immelt has already committed GE to taking on any legal cases incurred by Alstom’s energy arm, according to the Canard Enchaîné weekly, a promise that may have inclined the French company’s bosses favourably to the US offer.
 

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