Siemens 'poised for Alstom bid'

Siemens is preparing to make a formal bid for Alstom’s energy business as early this week, according to a report that again raises the prospect of the French group’s wind-power operation ending up in the hands of compatriot rival Areva.

More than three weeks since GE’s $17bn bid for Alstom emerged, Reuters claimed the German industrial giant will soon propose an alternative asset-swap that will see its own rail interests pass to Alstom and the energy operations come the other way.

Citing sources close to the discussions, the news agency said one possibility being discussed is for Siemens to sell-on Alstom’s wind and nuclear operations to Areva to allay French government fears over foreign ownership of strategic energy assets.

The possibility of state-controlled Areva taking ownership of Alstom’s offshore wind operation has been mooted before, in the context of GE allowing it to happen to smooth the passage of its own bid.

Industry observers have pointed to a host of hurdles – strategic, financial and regulatory – that would make such an arrangement highly challenging.

Under pressure from the French government, Siemens was given a window of May by Alstom to prepare a counter-bid to GE’s offer.

Alstom’s board has already come out strongly in favour of GE’s bid, but the French government immediately sounded alarm bells over the impact on jobs and investment.

Paris upped the ante last week when it gave itself beefed-up powers to block foreign takeovers of major energy businesses.