Such decisions should be left to the companies alone, Gerda Hasselfeldt, parliamentary caucus leader of the Christian Social Union, said in an interview in Berlin today. Hasselfeldt said she didn’t know if the topic is on the agenda for a weekend meeting between the chancellor and French President Francois Hollande.
“There’s a difference between having a direct influence or just staying in contact with the relevant players,” said Hasselfeldt, whose CSU is the Bavarian sister party to Merkel’s Christian Democrats and one of three parties in her coalition in Berlin. “It’s well known that France operates fundamentally different industrial politics to what is traditional here.”
French Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg has repeatedly said he favors the bid from Munich-based Siemens, Europe’s largest engineering company, over that from Fairfield, Connecticut-based GE. Hollande has no preference for either bid, according to people familiar with his thinking. The U.K. is also in the midst of a debate of the role governments should play in preventing takeovers by foreign companies as Pfizer Inc. ponders increasing its bid of more than $106 billion for AstraZeneca Plc, Britain’s second-biggest drugmaker.
GE has bid $17 billion to acquire Alstom’s energy unit. Siemens’s proposed acquisition of that division will probably entail swapping some of its rail assets for the French company’s energy division and creating two European leaders in their respective fields, people familiar with the matter have said.
Merkel and Siemens Chief Executive Officer Joe Kaeser have already discussed the German company’s bid for Alstom by phone at the executive’s request. Kaeser and Siemens Chairman Gerhard Cromme also met Hollande and Montebourg on April 28 in what the CEO called a “very open, trustful and amicable exchange.”