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Alstom board backs GE offer

Paris, April 30 (AFP): The battle for Alstom’s prized energy business heated up today, as the board of the French “national jewel” said it favoured an offer by US giant General Electric while Germany’s Siemens upped its rival bid.

The US and German behemoths have been publicly vying for Alstom’s energy assets for days in a politically sensitive battle over the French group.

France’s government, which views Alstom as a company of national strategic importance, has waded into the bidding war, with French economy minister Arnaud Montebourg vowing to defend the “industrial interests of the nation”.

In a statement, Alstom today said its board, which met the previous evening, was in favour of GE’s $17-billion bid for its energy arm, without closing the door to other proposals. It said it acknowledged “unanimously the strategic and industrial merits of this (GE) offer” and had decided to set up a committee to review the bid in depth by the end of May.

“It has, however, reserved the right to respond to unsolicited offers for its entire energy business and engage in discussions with bidders demonstrating a serious interest that could lead to a superior offer for Alstom,” the group said.

News the company could fall into American hands has angered some in France, including firebrand Montebourg. “It’s not over yet,” Montebourg said today.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls took a more conciliatory tone, telling France Inter radio that the view of the government had been taken into account over the future of what he has described as a company “of national strategic importance”.

 
 
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