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General Electric adds jobs to boost bid for Alstom power assets

A take-over battle for parts of French power and rail group Alstom heated up on Wednesday, with US group General Electric promising to create 1,000 jobs in France, a source close to the matter said. The two bidders, General Electric and German group Siemens, now have two to three weeks to complete their moves to win Alstom's power generation division which they value in the range of about 10.5-12.5 billion euros ($14.3-17 billion).

The beleaguered French government is clearly glad to be able to play off two rival offers. After a meeting between French President Francois Hollande and GE head Jeffrey Immelt, the source said that "General Electric has undertaken to create 1,000 jobs in France." Referring to the counter offer from German group Siemens, a French presidential source said: "We are working in the context of two proposals."

At stake is the future ownership of Alstom's business focused mainly on making turbines and related equipment for power plants, including some nuclear facilities. This accounts for about 70 percent of sales by Alstom which is also a world leader in making railway rolling stock, including the TGV high-speed train. The fate of company, a top name in French industry, is a problem for the French Socialist government which is fighting to arrest a decline of French industry, to boost exports and cut record unemployment. Industrial decline, and a switching of jobs to plants abroad, together with unemployment and efforts to reduce a budget deficit, cost the government dearly in recent municipal elections and were factors in a drubbing again on Sunday in European elections.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2014


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