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GE would keep Alstom’s nuclear division in France: Clara Gaymard

LiveMint logoLiveMint 25-05-2014 Bloomberg

Paris: General Electric Co., seeking state approval for its $17 billion bid to buy Alstom SA’s energy division, said it will keep the French power-equipment maker’s nuclear operations in its home country.

“We will answer the government’s legitimate demands that the nuclear unit remain French, that intellectual property stay French and that exports be protected,” Clara Gaymard, head of GE’s business in the country, said on Saturday in a France Info radio interview.

Gaymard’s comments, made a day after the Fairfield, Connecticut-based company agreed to a French government request to extend the deadline for the planned Alstom purchase by three weeks, underlined GE chief executive officer (CEO) Jeffrey Immelt’s pledge to respect the sovereign character of France’s nuclear industry.

The US manufacturer is in early-stage talks with state-controlled nuclear group Areva SA and other French companies about asset sales or partnerships, people familiar with the matter said in mid-May.

French President Francois Hollande and economy minister Arnaud Montebourg have been vocal in calling on GE to improve its offer to buy Alstom, which is based in the Paris suburb of Levallois-Perret. Hollande has said the bid is not acceptable and has called for stronger jobs guarantees, while Montebourg has publicly stated a preference for a proposal from Siemens AG.

Takeover Limits

Montebourg signed a decree this month giving authorities the power to block some foreign takeovers, including in the energy industry. The offer from Munich-based Siemens would swap most of its trainmaking business for Alstom’s energy assets, forming two leading European power and rail companies.

Alstom CEO Patrick Kron has called on the government to back GE’s bid, saying the offer meets concerns about France’s energy independence, local decision-making and prevention of job cuts as there are almost no overlaps between the operations.

Immelt said last week that he’s confident the US company can complete the acquisition, which he expects to close next year. GE’s CEO will meet Hollande on 28 May, the French president’s office said on Saturday. Bloomberg

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