Alstom and GE chiefs celebrate 'three-fold win'

Tue Jun 24, 2014 1:30pm EDT
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By Gilbert Reilhac

BELFORT France (Reuters) - In a joint trip to the eastern town of Belfort that is the cradle of their cooperation in France, the bosses of Alstom ALSO.PA and General Electric GE.N defended their tie-up as good for business, jobs and France.

French train and turbine maker Alstom agreed over the weekend a $16.9 billion deal with GE that had been fiercely challenged by the French government and will be the U.S. conglomerate's biggest acquisition ever.

To win over the government, GE has in the past weeks taken out full-page French newspaper ads reading "Tomorrow will be made in France" and flown its chief executive Jeff Immelt several times to Paris to meet President Francois Hollande and his Socialist government.

Now with the deal sealed, Immelt on Tuesday headed to Belfort, a town in eastern France where Alstom and GE workers have been building power turbines in neighboring plants for the past 15 years.

All smiles, Immelt and Alstom Chief Executive Patrick Kron chatted with local workers and posed for photographs in front of the Alstom steam turbines that will belong to a 50:50 joint venture as part of the deal sealed after a two-month tug-of-war with the government.

"I think it's a three-fold win," Kron told reporters during the visit.

"It provides a future for the activities and employees of Alstom, it has an industrial logic that GE and ourselves called for, and it addresses the government's concerns regarding (France's) energy transition and nuclear sovereignty."

Alstom's steam turbines are fitted in 30 percent of the world's nuclear plants, including those sold by French utility EDF EDF.PA, and the government was particularly worried to see them fall into foreign hands.   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