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GE chief Immelt in final push to sell France on Alstom energy assets bid

New York and Paris - Jeffrey Immelt arrived in France yesterday as the General Electric (GE) chief executive makes a final push to sell the government and unions on its bid for Alstom’s energy assets over an offer led by Siemens.

GE spokesperson Deirdre Latour said yesterday that Immelt would present new details of its $17 billion (R183bn) plan to officials including Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg.

Jeffrey Immelt, the chief executive at GE. Photo: Bloomberg. Credit: Bloomberg

Negotiators for the US group refined specifics ahead of a deadline on Monday, including the structure of Alstom’s renewable energy, grid and transport units, Latour said.

Seven weeks after unveiling its proposal for Alstom’s energy operations, GE confronts a counterbid by Siemens to carve up Alstom together with Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Hitachi. The Siemens offer values the energy assets at e14.2bn (R208bn).

Immelt’s return to Paris underscores the stakes in a deal that would give GE control of Alstom’s technology for electricity transmission and power plant maintenance as Europe’s economy starts to recover. The acquisition would be GE’s biggest ever and bolster Immelt’s push to return the company to its industrial roots.

Last month, Immelt shuffled GE’s lobbying plans and addressed France’s National Assembly on behalf of the company’s pursuit of Alstom’s energy assets, making a rare appearance by a US chief executive in front of legislators.

Steve Bolze, the head of GE’s power and water unit, and John Flannery, the firm’s lead negotiator, were in France for the latest talks, and GE has run adverts highlighting its plan to create 1 000 local industrial jobs. It uses the tag line: “Tomorrow is made in France.”

GE made a binding offer on April 30 to acquire Alstom’s energy business, which makes turbines and power transmission equipment. Alstom’s board gave preliminary approval to the proposal, which does not include the company’s transport unit making high-speed trains.

Alstom will consider other offers before Monday’s deadline, and Siemens unveiled details of a joint bid with Mitsubishi for Alstom’s energy operations on Monday.

Alstom’s initial assessment of the Siemens plan was that it was too complicated, it has emerged. The French company did not view a separation of the gas and steam turbines business as workable. – Bloomberg

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