France Picks: GE is the One for Alstom

Posted by Greg Trauthwein
Friday, June 20, 2014

France chose General Electric to form an alliance with Alstom on Friday - rejecting an offer from Siemens and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries - but said the deal still needed some work and added it would buy a 20 percent stake in the hotly-contested company.

Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg said he had used a newly- created state decree to reject both of the existing offers as not being in France's strategic interest, and had formulated fresh demands to GE Chief Executive Jeff Immelt.

The decision ended weeks of suspense surrounding one of Europe's fiercest industrial battles in years, but left open major questions about the final shape of an alliance which GE hopes will give it access to new power markets.

"The points we have raised with General Electric are precise and technical but necessary," Montebourg told a news conference after two days of talks involving the bosses of the three suitors, President Francois Hollande and top ministers.

He said France had demanded strict conditions "guaranteeing energy independence, job creation on national territory and maintenance of decision-making centres in France".

He said the offer from Siemens and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) was "very serious" and that he had personally backed it, but that the government "had made up its mind".

Montebourg added that he understood the Alstom board would meet later on Friday and give its view.

Alstom, GE and Siemens all declined to comment.

Montebourg confirmed that Alstom's lucrative gas turbines arm would be purchased by GE and said there would be discussions on the shape of joint ventures in other energy areas ranging from renewables to nuclear.

He said the French state would come in as the top shareholder in Alstom by purchasing a 20 percent stake in it from Bouygues, currently the holder of 29 percent.

The government and Bouygues have yet to agree on the price of the stake, sources with knowledge of the talks said. Based on Alstom's current market capitalization, a 20 percent stake would be worth 1.7 billion euros ($2.32 billion).

A Bouygues spokesman declined to comment.

GE will sell its rail signaling business to Alstom as part of plans to strengthen the transport activities of the French group, maker of the famed TGV high-speed trains.

Montebourg said the signalling business was valued at "one billion dollars or euros, I am not sure". He gave no other valuation details during the news conference.

Alstom's sensitive nuclear activities will be held in a 50:50 venture with GE in which the French state would have a "golden share" giving it a veto, said the economy minister, a self-styled "economic patriot" from the French left.

"VERY GRATEFUL"

Alstom suffered more than bigger rivals from the 2008 economic crisis, which depressed electricity demand and caused a slump in the market for new power plant equipment, hitting its cash flow and ability to service debt.

But its assets are valuable to rivals slugging it out in a tough market. Linking up with Alstom will allow GE to provide turbines for power stations and technology for electricity grids - something Siemens, eyeing Alstom's high-margin gas turbines for itself, and MHI wanted to prevent because it makes their U.S. rival even stronger.

However analysts said that GE and Siemens both stood to benefit, regardless which one of them won the bid, as any deal would remove a competitor from the market that had been pushing down prices in a bid to grow its business. Alstom is the No.3 player in gas turbines after GE and Siemens, with a global market share that is estimated to be below 10 percent.

"Siemens should not be at a major disadvantage if GE buys the gas business," DWS fund manager Marcus Poppe told Reuters.

GE had radically overhauled its bid on Thursday, 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 added 1.2 billion euros ($1.64 billion) to their offer for Alstom's energy business on Friday - taking their cash component to 8.2 billion - and simplified the structure of the deal, hoping to see off GE ahead of Monday's deadline for an Alstom board decision on the company's fate.

Siemens said its offer, which valued Alstom's power businesses at 14.6 billion euros, well above GE's 12.4 billion, was "superior industrially, financially and socially," and reaffirmed pledges to create new jobs in France, a commitment GE has also made.

Emerging from talks with Hollande, Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser said he was "very grateful" that the president had heard his pitch and added: "We will respect every decision."

Hollande's government blocked GE's initial advances on Alstom some two months ago and forced it to improve its offer by encouraging Siemens to enter the fray and giving itself the power to block industrial tie-ups in strategic areas.

Yet sources involved in the back-room discussions over the past seven weeks said it was not clear whether there was a single government line: Several union representatives of Alstom and political sources told Reuters the saga had drawn a divide between Montebourg, who they said lent towards the Siemens-MHI plan, and Hollande, in favour of GE.

While no one has publicly drawn a link between the two cases, Hollande is also lobbying U.S. authorities to reduce the penalties which France's biggest lender, BNP Paribas, faces for breaching U.S. sanctions in 2002-2009, notably its dollar-financing of oil trade out of Sudan. ($1 = 0.7336 Euros) (Additional reporting by Joern Poltz in Munich, Elizabeth Pineau in Paris and Maria Sheahan in Frankfurt; Writing by Mark John; Editing by Sophie Walker)
Word Count: 984
 

Maritime Today


The Maritime Industry's original and most viewed E-News Service

Maritime Reporter June 2016 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

People & Company News

Conrad Shipyard Forms LNG Business Unit

Conrad Shipyard has formed a new business unit focused on LNG projects.   Conrad, builder of North America’s first LNG bunker barge scheduled for 2017 delivery,

Prince Charles Places Final Section of UK Aircraft Carrier

The second of the largest warships ever built for the U.K. Royal Navy, the Queen Elizabeth Class carrier HMS Prince of Wales, was given the royal seal of approval when HRH The Prince of Wales,

New Zealand: Maritime Trade is Key

Globally, shipping is on the rise – already 80-90 percent of the world’s trade is by ship; that is more than 12 billion metric tons of goods annually, shipped by 1.

Contracts

Baltic Index up for Third Straight Session

The Baltic Exchange's main sea freight index, tracking rates for ships carrying dry bulk commodities, rose on Friday, for a third straight session, on rising demand across all vessel segments.

Asia Tankers-VLCC Rates to Climb Slowly

Around 47 MidEast charters fixed for July loading so far; older tonnage and new vessels a drag on freight rates. Freight rates for very large crude carriers

BIMCO Launches New Standard Agreements for Novation of Shipping Contracts

BIMCO has published three standard novation agreements that provide a legal framework to change one of the original parties to a contract.   Two of the agreements

Finance

VEB Guarantees $3 Bln of Yamal LNG Debt

Russian development bank VEB said on Friday it had provided a guarantee for $3 billion of debt to the Yamal liquefied natural gas (LNG) project, led by Russian gas firm Novatek.

US Oil Drillers Cut Rigs after 3 Weeks of Additions

U.S. oil drillers cut rigs this week for a 20th week this year after three weeks of additions, according to a closely followed report on Friday, as crude prices

World Stocks Tumble as Britain Votes for EU Exit

Global capital markets reeled on Friday after Britain voted to leave the European Union, with $2 trillion in value wiped from equity bourses worldwide, while money

Government Update

Denmark Adopts Digital Ship Certification

As of June 24, 2016, ships flying the Danish flag are being digitally certified, making Denmark one of the first countries to put an end to the 100-year-old tradition

Prince Charles Places Final Section of UK Aircraft Carrier

The second of the largest warships ever built for the U.K. Royal Navy, the Queen Elizabeth Class carrier HMS Prince of Wales, was given the royal seal of approval when HRH The Prince of Wales,

More than 2,000 Migrants Rescued at Sea -Italy Coastguard

Ship crews pulled more than 2,000 migrants from overcrowded boats in the Mediterranean on Friday, Italy's coastguard said, as people smugglers stepped up operations

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Maritime Security Maritime Standards Naval Architecture Navigation Offshore Oil Pod Propulsion Port Authority Ship Electronics
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.1175 sec (9 req/sec)