Siemens Intensifies Pursuit of Alstom in Competition with GE
Germany’s Siemens AG (SIE.DE) is maneuvering to beat General Electric’s (GE) $13 billion offer to acquire France’s train and energy asset producer Alstom SA (ALO). Munich-based Siemens reportedly is weighing an asset swap, a guarantee that jobs will not be lost and offering assurance that key European transportation and energy assets would remain under European ownership. Siemens is preparing to bid for Alstom assets, under the condition that it gains the same access to financial information that GE obtained, according to people familiar with the plans. Siemens leaders will decide on a bid after a board meeting set for today, the people said. Alstom’s board met during the weekend and announced plans to make a decision by Wednesday, April 30. In the wake of Siemens’s overtures for Alstom, France’s President Francois Hollande held talks with GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt on Monday morning. However, France’s Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg seemed to side with Siemens when he wrote on his official Twitter account that Alstom’s CEO Patrick Kron was committing “a breach of national ethics” by seeking to sell the company behind the backs of its shareholders, its employees and the French government. Alstom, which has been hurt by huge debts and falling demand, was bailed out by the French government in 2004. Outsized by bigger competitors, Alstom has suffered from a slump in orders for power equipment, after the 2008 economic slump that depressed electricity prices.