French government to become Alstom's main shareholder

Peter Spence
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Arnaud Montebourg has said that the French government will become Alstom's main shareholder (Source: Getty)

French economy minister Arnaud Montebourg has announced that the French government will be taking a 20 per cent stake in train and turbine manufacturer Alstom.

That will make the French state Alstom's biggest shareholder. The move follows a revised takeover proposal for the French business from General Electric.

The French state will now enter an alliance with GE, in a deal that will allow the US company to purchase Alstom's gas-fired turbine business and other energy assets.

GE will set up three 50-50 joint ventures for Alstom's nuclear turbines, grid, and renewable energy businesses. The French state will hold a so-called golden share in that turbines business. The deal also effectively puts an end to the question of an alternative Siemens and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries bid for Alstom assets.

The government has already said that it would veto any offer that it did not see as protecting local jobs and strategic interests. CMC Markets' Michael Hewson poked fun at the move on Twitter, saying that it was clear that "reforms [are] alive and well in France".