offer for Alstom has improved, French official says
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[May 28, 2014]
PARIS (Reuters) - U.S.
conglomerate General Electric has improved its offer for
French train and turbine maker Alstom, notably
concerning the impact on jobs, an official at French
President Francois Hollande's office said on Wednesday.
The comments, which followed a meeting between Hollande and GE Chief
Executive Jeff Immelt, signaled a change of tone from Paris. The
French government had until now criticized GE's $16.9 billion bid
for Alstom's power arm and earlier this month passed a decree giving
itself an effective veto on any deal.
On Tuesday evening, Immelt told French lawmakers his group would
make detailed commitments to increase jobs in France, including by
opening new sites.
He also said GE was considering a tie-up in rail signaling that
would give Alstom control of that business, addressing government
concerns that a straight sale of the power business would weaken the
once-bailed out engineering group by reducing it to its smaller
"Today we can see that GE's offer has been detailed, improved,
strengthened," said the official at Hollande's office, adding,
however, that there was still "some work to be done".
Shares in Alstom jumped as much as 1.9 percent. Alstom management
and investors have welcomed GE's bid, saying it would give the
company cash to pay its growing debts and the critical mass it
lacked in a difficult global power market.
The French government had lately criticized GE's bid and sought to
drum up better offers, including from Siemens, Alstom's longtime
German rival, which has signaled its interest in making a competing
proposal but has yet to make a formal bid.
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The chairman of Siemens France said on Tuesday the group hoped to
make a formal offer by June 16 to buy most of Alstom's power assets
and in exchange give up its own trains business, but that it was
still looking at the opportunities and risks of a tie-up.
(Reporting by Julien Ponthus and Natalie Huet; Editing by James
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