French government backs GE Alstom bid
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France has decided to favour US industrial giant General Electric's 12.35-billion-euro bid for French engineering group Alstom. GE has offered the government a veto over nuclear energy technology.
Under Friday's proposal the French government aims to take a controlling 20-per-cent stake in Alstom by buying two-thirds of the shares owned by French group Bouygues as a show of "patriotic vigilance".
Alstom's board has until Monday to decide whether the group should enter into exclusive negotiations with GE.
Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg said on Friday that he had sent a letter of intent to GE boss Jeff Immelt outlining the terms of the deal.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls welcomed GE’s improved offer, which gives the government a veto over nuclear energy technology, the source of most of France’s electricity.
Shares in Alstom rose 1.1 per cent to close at 28.00 euros on the news.
Alstom has been at the centre of a transatlantic tug of war for several months, as the French government objected to the US giant buying the jewel of French engineering and encouraged a rival offer by Siemens and Mitsubishi.
Siemens and Mitsubishi on Friday improved and simplified their linked offers, increasing their valuation of Alstom’s energy division to 14.6 billion euros but Montebourg said it would have hit opposition in Brussels because of the European Commission’s “very ideological” stance on competition.