France approves takeover of Alstom energy assets by General Electric

GMT 23:20 2014 Wednesday ,05 November

Arab Today, arab today France approves takeover of Alstom energy assets by General Electric

Alstom's energy assets to General Electric
Paris - AFP

The French government on Wednesday authorised the sale of most of Alstom's energy assets to US group General Electric, clearing the way for a 12.4 billion euro deal reached in June after long and fierce negotiations.
Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron "gave his authorisation to General Electric (GE) for the realisation of its investment project in France with Alstom and the creation of an industrial alliance between the two groups in the energy sector," his ministry said in a statement.
The deal still requires regulatory approvals and Alstom shareholders will consider it at a meeting on December 19, the French company said.
French government approval of the deal was needed because of a decree this year that gives Paris veto rights over foreign bids for "strategic" French companies, notably those in the energy and transport sectors.
Alstom is involved in power generation and building rail systems.
The economy ministry said it was satisfied that "state interests" in France's nuclear activities and energy security were "fully taken into account" under the deal.
GE in June won a fierce two-month battle against Germany's Siemens and Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to buy most of Alstom's energy assets, which represent around 70 percent of the French conglomerate's revenues, for 12.35 billion euros (worth $16.82 billion at the time and $15.42 billion at current exchange rates).
GE will take over Alstom's lucrative gas turbine business completely.
But GE will also take on Alstom's nuclear, steam turbine, offshore wind and hydro power businesses, which it will run as 50-50 joint ventures with French shareholders including, most importantly, the government.
And it will fold its electricity grid business into Alstom's, also to be run as a 50-50 joint venture.
Meanwhile it will hand its own train signalling business to the Alstom's high-speed rail operation -- which makes France's famed TGV fast trains -- and which will then be the core business of Alstom.
None of that was part of the US titan's original proposal, but it faced a French government determined to protect the jewels of French industry amid soaring unemployment and fears of recession.
To seal the deal, GE had to pledge to create jobs in France when it might have originally thought to make gains through consolidation. It agreed to the government holding key blocks of shares in the joint ventures, and granted the government a veto over key decisions.
Among concessions it had to make: a pledge to pay penalties of 50,000 euros for every job out of the 1,000 promised that it fails to create in France.
The economy ministry said it was confident the deal safeguards France's interests in the nuclear energy sector -- the country's main source of electricity generation -- as well as security over energy supply.
It also said the deal would reinforce Alstom in the rail sector.
"The new Alstom group, thanks to this transaction, will have the means necessary to develop into a French and European champion in the transport sector," said the economy ministry in its statement.
Alstom also released Wednesday its half-year fiscal results for April to end-September that showed a 32 percent drop in net income to 255 million euros. Its shares ended the day down 0.29 percent at 27.80.
GE shares edged up 0.25 percent to $25.76 in New York.


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