Canadian Manufacturing

Siemens, Mitsubishi announce joint offer for part of France’s Alstom

Joint offer could derail efforts by GE, which submitted US$17-billion for Alstom's gas business



BERLIN—Engineering giants Siemens AG of Germany and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. of Japan have jointly offered to buy parts of France’s Alstom and start a long-term partnership, a move that could derail a competing bid by General Electric Co. (GE).

Siemens said it is offering US$5.3 billion to acquire Alstom’s gas business entirely, including related service contracts.

Mitsubishi would purchase a 10 per cent stake of Alstom and inject US$4.2 billion into the company.

Struggling Alstom already has a US$17-billion offer on the table from GE for its energy operations, but the French government has been cool to the idea of a buyout of a company that pioneered TGV high-speed trains, later exporting them around the world, and builds nuclear turbines.

Siemens and Mitsubishi promised their proposal would “preserve Alstom’s current perimeter in almost all its activities, enhance its industrial sustainability, strengthen its position as a diversified global player in energy and transport, and strengthen its financial structure, while remaining a major French listed group.”

French President Francois Hollande, who has said GE’s offer is not good enough, said he would meet with the CEOs of both Siemens and Mitsubishi this week to discuss their joint proposal.

While the French government finds GE’s offer appealing because of its longtime presence in France, it has tried to have other potential suitors, like Siemens and Mitsubishi, make more attractive offers.

A ranking French official said in April that the French priority in all matters is jobs, energy independence and keeping companies on French soil.

In addition to the cash transaction, Siemens said it would offer job guarantees for three years in France and Germany for the transferred business, and would establish its European headquarters for the combined gas service business in France.

Siemens also indicated that following the closing of the deal, it would eventually “be prepared to become a long-term anchor shareholder in a combined transport business.”

Siemens is a huge company, with 359,000 employees worldwide, that makes everything from gas- and wind-powered turbines to trains, medical imaging devices, factory machines and security equipment.

Mitsubishi is Japan’s largest heavy machinery maker, with US$32 billion in annual revenue.

It produces ships, engines, nuclear power plants and arms for Japan’s defence ministry.

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