The main battle lines were drawn up Wednesday in the USD 17 billion bid by General Electric of the US to purchase France's engineering company, Alstom, as Germany's Siemens said it was maintaining a bid to acquire, principally, the energy component of the French company.
Alstom, seen as a prize possession of French industry, has encountered financial problems for a number of years, which required French intervention in 2006 to save it from going under.
Most observers maintain it is too small to survive alone in the transport and energy sectors and it still remains to be seen if it will fall under the control of the US or of the German company.
Last week, it was revealed that GE, a major turbine and engineering company several times larger than Alstom, was willing to acquire the energy activities of Alstom for just over Euros 12 billion (USD 17 billion).
Then Siemens emerged on the scene in the past days with its own offer of acquiring the same asset but with a proposal to merge the high-speed train activities of Alstom and Siemens and said it would relinquish part of these to the French company.
The complicated restructuring is under study here and Alstom's Board of Directors said overnight that they were favouring the GE bid.
Siemens responded by saying it would improve its offer which was initially around Euros 11 billion, taking into account the ceding of certain transport activities to Alstom.
The French company manufactures the world famous "TGV" high-speed train, which travels at around 300 kms per hour.
Both GE and Siemens executives have been received by French President Francois Hollande, who stressed the need to preserve activity and jobs in France.
The final decision on the deal is to be announced in one month when the consultations and discussions between the parties are concluded.
The battle is not over yet, according to officials, but GE may have another edge in that it already acquired part of Alstom some years ago and it has an outlet located opposite the Alstom headquarters plant in Belfort in eastern France