Kron: GE offer 'positive' on jobs

Alstom CEO Patrick Kron insisted GE’s offer for his company’s energy interests is capable of addressing French government concerns over jobs, and said the ball is now in Siemens’ court over a possible rival bid.

In a conference call to discuss Alstom's results, Kron was asked about comments from French politicians demanding cast-iron guarantees on employment if the GE bid goes ahead, and calling for a “partnership” rather than a takeover.

GE has already said it is willing to safeguard jobs in France, for example by siting centres of excellence in offshore wind and grid there.

Kron said: “I think that we have a solid offer that addresses positively the strategic issues we are facing. We listen to all stakeholders and the French state is one of them."

He added: “The government have employment in the centre of their focus. This is obviously one of my key concerns. I think that what we have on the table is addressing this positively.

“If this can be improved or an alternative would be better, we will see. The process is open. We think have a good offer in hand.”

Repeating the Alstom board’s view that GE’s $17bn bid provides “strong opportunities” for the energy business and its employees, Kron was at pains to point out more than once that “we only have one offer on the table”.

But the Alstom CEO confirmed that the company’s data room has been opened for Siemens, and it is now up to the German group to decide whether to take things further.

If an offer is forthcoming, the board will examine it. But Kron said that any bidder would need to be "extremely clear" on satisfying Alstom that competition concerns would not impede any transaction.

Kron hinted that he would be unlikely to have a role at a purely transport-focused Alstom if a split from the energy business does go ahead.