France, Levallois-Perret: General Electric (GE) and Siemens defended rival proposals to buy Alstom's power business on Tuesday.
Both companies were assuring France that Alstom would be strengthened, telling about their plans being good for Alstom and about addressing government concerns over the fate of the company and the nation's wider industrial footprint.
During a parliamentary hearing, the chairman of Siemens France, Christophe de Maistre, said the Siemens hoped to submit their formal asset swap offer by the 16th June at the latest, which would create two European industry champions, one in power around Siemens, the other in rail around Alstom.
Meanwhile, GE Chief Executive Jeff Immelt, defended his group's $ 16.9 billion bid for Alstom's power business. He said GE would make commitments to increase jobs in France by opening new sites, and was also considering a tie-up in rail signalling that would give Alstom control of that business.
Reuters reports that sources familiar with the Siemens proposal said that it would ring-fence Alstom's steam turbines used in nuclear plants, as Paris fears that having these fall under U.S. control could jeopardise France's exports in the atomic power industry.
Siemens would hand Alstom all of its trains business, creating a bigger transport group that would be mainly owned by France with its headquarters there. Also, a tie-up between Alstom and Siemens in transport would give the business the critical mass Alstom needed in that sector, putting it on an equal footing with China's CNR and CSR and ahead of Canada's Bombardier.
GE's Immelt said a straight sale of Alstom's power turbines and grid business would not cause the French company to be absorbed by GE, but would make it stronger as a whole and on a global stage. In transport, he said GE was now in talks with the government and Alstom over a deal combining both group's signalling assets and handing Alstom control of the business.
"Alstom Transport would have the size, technology and financial strength to measure up to rivals such as Bombardier, Ansaldo and Siemens." Immelt said.