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Offers improved for France's Alstom

Friday, June 20 15:45:40

Siemens and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries added a billion euro to their offer for Alstom's energy business today, hoping to see off a revamped bid by General Electric ahead of Monday's decision deadline.

President Francois Hollande, whose government has said it will veto any deal that does not protect jobs and industrial know-how, consulted ministers and the U.S. and German firms' bosses in talks that could seal the fate of the 86-year-old firm at the centre of one of Europe's fiercest industrial battles.

In a statement after the discussions, Hollande's office said Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg would make public the government's view later today.

"I think that a solution will be found for Alstom in coming hours," said Finance Minister Michel Sapin.

Alstom's board is due to meet by June 23.

GE radically overhauled its bid yesterday, hoping to appease unions and politicians by transforming what had been largely a straight purchase into an offer of joint ventures similar to that of Siemens-MHI.

In response Siemens-MHI simplified the structure of their offer today and raised its cash component by 1.2 billion euro to 8.2 billion.

That values Alstom's power businesses at 14.6 billion euro, Siemens said, 400 million more than previously and still well above GE's 12.4 billion.

GE's cash component in its revamped offer has fallen to an as yet unspecified level since it said it would sell its rail signalling unit to Alstom and set up 50/50 joint ventures in grid, nuclear and renewable assets. Under this proposal GE would still end up with the lucrative gas turbines that account for roughly a third of Alstom's power business.

Siemens said its offer was "superior industrially, financially and socially", and reaffirmed pledges to create new jobs in France, a commitment GE has also made. (Reuters)