GE in talks to buy Alstom's power arm: sources
By Benjamin Mallet and Matthieu Protard
PARIS (Reuters) - U.S. industrial conglomerate General Electric Co (GE.N: Quote) is in advanced talks to buy the global power division of struggling French engineering group Alstom SA (ALSO.PA: Quote) for about $13 billion, sources familiar with the matter said on Friday.
Sources said a deal was backed by Alstom's main shareholder, French conglomerate Bouygues (BOUY.PA: Quote) with 29 percent, and could be announced in the coming days after an Alstom board meeting on Friday afternoon. The board was due to meet again on Sunday to discuss the transaction, French daily Le Figaro said.
"Talks are going ahead swiftly, the deal's structure is defined and everything is almost ready," one of the sources said. "It would be a very big asset sale, enclosing the entire energy business."
Alstom Chief Executive Patrick Kron confirmed to union representatives there were talks about an "industrial deal," but did not name GE.
Alstom, Bouygues and General Electric declined to comment.
A deal to sell Alstom's power assets, which account for about 70 percent of total group revenue, would effectively break up the engineering group and leave Alstom as a pure transport business, already known for its high-speed TGV trains.
It could, however, be less politically sensitive than a full takeover offer for the company, talk of which caused Alstom shares to soar on Thursday.
"By separating Alstom Transport, which may remain an independent French company and national champion, resistance could stay muted," Berenberg's William Mackie wrote in a note. Continued...