Alstom minority investors criticise GE deal

Tue Jul 1, 2014 2:55pm EDT
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By Natalie Huet and Benjamin Mallet

PARIS (Reuters) - Minority shareholders in Alstom (ALSO.PA: Quote) criticised its planned tie-up with General Electric (GE.N: Quote), saying they had not been given enough information, and some voiced concern about the French government's influence as a result of the deal.

The French train and turbine maker last month agreed a $16.9 billion deal with GE that will see the U.S. conglomerate acquiring most of Alstom's energy business. The deal, which sparked a two-month tug-of-war with the government, is expected to close in the first half of 2015.

The deal will have to win the two-thirds majority approval from Alstom shareholders during an extraordinary meeting in the fourth quarter, Alstom Chief Executive Patrick Kron told the firm's annual shareholder meeting in Paris on Tuesday.

It is not clear at this stage whether the firm's biggest shareholder Bouygues (BOUY.PA: Quote), with a 29 percent stake, will take part in the vote or accede to calls from some minority investors to step aside because of its role in the deal.

The government gave its blessing to the tie-up only after it won the option to buy 20 percent of Alstom from the construction group.

With the second-biggest Alstom shareholder having a stake of about just 5 percent, minority investors could play an important role if Bouygues decides not to participate in the vote.

A Bouygues spokesman declined to comment.

Throughout Tuesday's shareholder meeting, several minority shareholders voiced concern over the future shape and governance of the firm, which will be refocused on transport and is set to have the French state as its top shareholder.   Continued...

The logos of French power and transport engineering company Alstom and U.S. conglomerate General Electric are pictured on their site in Belfort, June 23, 2014. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler