France hints at block to GE bid for power plant builder Alstom

Suzie Neuwirth
THE FRENCH government has hinted it would block a takeover bid from US engineering giant General Electric for train and power plant builder Alstom, after a report emerged that a $13bn (£7.7bn) deal may be on the cards.

Shares in France’s Alstom surged over 14 per cent yesterday, after a Bloomberg report, citing people with knowledge of the matter, said the companies were in talks and may announce a deal as early as next week.

But French Prime Minister Manuel Valls told reporters the government would keep a close watch on jobs, technology and decision-making. His economy minister, Arnaud Montebourg, has a track record of intervening in big industrial deals.

Alstom was bailed out by the French state a decade ago and strongly relies on orders from national rail operator SNCF and utility EDF. GE has the support of Bouygues, Alstom’s biggest shareholder with a 29 per cent stake, the report said.

Alstom denied the speculation yesterday, saying it “is not informed of any potential public tender offer for the shares of the company”, but added that it “constantly reviews the strategic options of its businesses.”