By Karl-Erik Stromsta in New York
Monday, April 28 2014
Updated: Monday, April 28 2014
As the curtain fell on negotiations Monday – a day in which the chief executives from both GE and then Siemens met with French president Francois Hollande – Alstom’s board was leaning towards GE’s offer, according to press reports.
That preference was based at least in part on the more advanced state of GE’s offer, which has apparently evolved over several months of negotiations between GE and Alstom.
GE chief executive Jeffrey Immelt reportedly already has the approval of his company’s board for the deal.
French economy minister Arnaud Montebourg, however, expressed irritation that negotiations have been going on for a while between GE and Alstom in private.
Montebourg suggested he would prefer a deal with Siemens, keeping Alstom a fully European company.
“We won’t let Alstom sell this national champion behind the back of its shareholders, its employees and the French government,” Montebourg wrote on Twitter early on Monday.
The French government does not own a stake in Alstom, but it does own parts of several of the company’s biggest customers – including Electricite de France.
In spite of the tough talk from the Elysee Palace, however, some analysts believe it may be easier for GE to preserve jobs in France than it would for Siemens, given the smaller overlap between GE's businesses and Alstom’s.
Siemens’ board will convene on Tuesday to decide whether – and how – to bid for Alstom, according to reports.
In his meeting with Hollande, Immelt confirmed that GE will on Tuesday firm up its commitments to protecting and enriching Alstom’s jobs base and R&D facilities in France.
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