PARIS (Reuters) - German engineering group Siemens (SIEGn.DE) would keep a minority stake in any enlarged Alstom (ALSO.PA) train-making business should its plan to buy the French company’s power turbines arm work out, the head of Siemens France told a French newspaper.
Reiterating that Siemens was “serious” about making a counter-proposal to an offer from U.S.-based General Electric (GE.N) before its self-imposed deadline of June 16, Christophe de Maistre told Le Parisien the company was also “willing to discuss our activities in rail signaling - which carry twice the weight of Alstom’s”.
Sources told Reuters in May that the rival Siemens plan to buy Alstom’s power division would hand Alstom its trains business along with an amount of cash yet to be determined, creating a bigger transport group based around Alstom’s TGV high-speed trains.
That business would be majority-owned by France and would have its headquarters there, the sources said.
In rail signaling, Siemens would offer to take over Alstom’s business but set up the headquarters of that unit in France, the sources said.
GE offered 12.35 billion euros ($16.8 billion) for Alstom’s power arm in April, prompting Siemens to start work on a rival deal and the French government to pass a decree extending its powers to block deals in strategic industry sectors.
In recent weeks, there have been a series of discussions between the French government and all three companies, with Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg and President Francois Hollande attempting to secure concessions on jobs and the location of businesses.
On May 28, the government said GE’s proposal - which also now involves plans to co-operate in the transport sector - had been “improved” and “strengthened” after CEO Jeff Immelt came to Paris to promise an extra 1,000 engineering jobs in France.
GE has also since launched an advertising campaign in newspapers and on French television stressing its connections and commitments to France.
One of the concerns voiced by the government surrounds control of the production of turbines for nuclear power stations, which play an important role in the French power sector and are important to the business of the country’s main state-controlled power utility EDF (EDF.PA) and to specialist nuclear firm Areva AREVA.PA.
Both potential buyers have also sought to allay the concerns by offering to ringfence the manufacture of nuclear turbines.
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Reporting by Andrew Callus and Cyril Altemeyer; Editing by Sophie Walker