General Electric has extended a deadline for its $16.9bn bid for the energy business of Alstom of France, giving it more time for talks with French ministers that it hopes will secure support for the deal.
The US manufacturing and finance group is offering concessions on issues such as access to technology, French ownership of part of the business, and employment, intended to ease concerns about ceding the majority of one of France’s flagship companies to a foreign buyer.
The deadline for Alstom’s committee of independent directors to make a formal decision on the GE offer and enter exclusive negotiations has been extended by three weeks to June 23 at the government’s request, GE said, “to facilitate ongoing discussions”.
The delay gives GE’s rival Siemens of Germany, which has proposed offering its train business in a swap for Alstom’s energy operations, more time to make its own formal bid.
Patrick Kron, Alstom’s chief executive, has backed the GE offer, and said the French company’s board also supported it.
However, the government has raised doubts about the deal. Arnaud Montebourg, the industry minister, wrote to Jeff Immelt, GE’s chief executive, this month, saying: “As it stands, we unfortunately cannot support the proposals you have made.”
Last week the government issued a decree requiring prior state approval for most foreign bids.
GE executives are continuing talks with French officials. Last Friday Steve Bolze, head of GE’s power and water business, met Mr Montebourg.
The US company has been arguing that its bid is “good for Alstom, for France and for GE”, and has offered concessions that it hopes will win over sceptical ministers.
Siemens has not yet made a formal offer, and any proposed deal with the German company could face objections from competition regulators.
Mr Immelt said on Wednesday that GE was “confident in this deal” and had thought through the issues it faced.
然而法国政府则提出了质疑。法国工业部长阿尔诺?蒙特布尔(Arnaud Montebourg)本月曾致信通用电气首席执行官杰弗里?伊梅尔特(Jeffrey Immelt)称：“根据目前的情况来看，不幸的是，我们无法支持您提出的提案。”