Germany Signals Siemens Backing Over GE in Battle for Alstom

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government signaled support for Siemens AG (SIE)’s bid to prevent General Electric Co. (GE) from acquiring Alstom SA (ALO) of France as a way to boost Europe’s industrial power.

Munich-based Siemens is considering “a partial takeover” of its French rival that “offers great opportunities and potential for Germany and France from an industrial-policy standpoint,” Stefan Rouenhoff, a spokesman for the German Economy Ministry, said in Berlin today.

The German government is in contact with French President Francois Hollande’s administration about the talks involving the three companies, Steffen Seibert, Merkel’s chief spokesman, said at the same news briefing.

The comments were the first public indication of Germany’s position since GE Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt’s bid for Alstom prompted a counteroffer by Siemens to swap assets with Alstom in an intra-European deal. Hollande planned to meet with Siemens executives in Paris today after receiving Immelt.

A French-German tie-up would be a sign of cooperation among the euro area’s two biggest economies after Merkel and Hollande agreed in February to cooperate on energy policy and help protect Europe’s industrial base.

Photographer: Michele Tantussi/Bloomberg

A French-German tie-up would be a sign of cooperation among the euro area’s two biggest economies after German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande agreed in February to cooperate on energy policy and help protect Europe’s industrial base. Close

A French-German tie-up would be a sign of cooperation among the euro area’s two biggest... Read More

Close
Open
Photographer: Michele Tantussi/Bloomberg

A French-German tie-up would be a sign of cooperation among the euro area’s two biggest economies after German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande agreed in February to cooperate on energy policy and help protect Europe’s industrial base.

The French government doesn’t oppose GE’s proposal, and the meeting between Immelt and Hollande focused on protecting jobs and maintaining the independence of France’s nuclear industry, according to a person with knowledge of the discussions who asked not to be named because they are private.

A day earlier, French Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg backed a deal with Siemens, which would entail exchanging some of its rail assets for Alstom’s energy division and creating two “European champions.” Alstom’s market value is about 8.3 billion euros ($11.5 billion).

German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, the head of Merkel’s Social Democratic junior coalition partner, is “in permanent contact with all parties involved” and is keeping Merkel informed of the state of play, Rouenhoff said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Birgit Jennen in Berlin at bjennen1@bloomberg.net; Patrick Donahue in Berlin at pdonahue1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Alan Crawford at acrawford6@bloomberg.net Tony Czuczka

Press spacebar to pause and continue. Press esc to stop.

Bloomberg reserves the right to remove comments but is under no obligation to do so, or to explain individual moderation decisions.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.