Merkel ally criticizes French over Alstom deal

Mon Jun 23, 2014 4:44am EDT
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BERLIN (Reuters) - A conservative ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel accused France on Monday of showing "ice-cold" national interests in choosing GE over Siemens for an alliance with Alstom, and also questioned whether Paris had the fiscal leeway to buy a large stake in the French firm.

France on Friday rejected an offer from Siemens and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (7011.T: Quote) for Alstom's energy arm, instead choosing U.S. firm General Electric.

In announcing its choice, Paris made additional demands on the U.S. conglomerate and announced it would buy a 20 percent stake in the French maker of turbines and high-speed trains.

Peter Ramsauer, chairman of the German parliament's economics committee and a member of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party to Merkel's conservatives, said France had put national interests over European interests.

"The French government has a different philosophy," Ramsauer told German radio station Deutschlandfunk on Monday.

"It acts with ice-cold national industrial interest, and the French government has clearly put its own national interests, one-sided French concerns, ahead of European interests."

He added however, that he would have liked to see the German government provide the same support to Siemens that the French did for Alstom. Siemens is based in Bavaria, the state where Ramsauer's CSU governs.

Ramsauer, a former transport minister, criticized France for announcing plans to buy a 20 percent stake in Alstom despite its heavy debts and budget deficit.

The purchase, likely to cost a couple billion euros, would be made by the French agency that manages government share holdings is not expected to affect French deficit calculations.   Continued...

The logo of Alstom is seen on the entrance of Alstom plant in Aytre near La Rochelle, southwest France August 24, 2006. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau