Siemens to table offer for Alstom if given four weeks to conduct due diligence

30 Apr 2014


German engineering giant Siemens AG yesterday said that it would table an offer for French power equipment and rail infrastructure giant Alstom SA if it is given four weeks to conduct due diligence.

''The Managing Board and the Supervisory Board of Siemens decided on Tuesday to make an offer to Alstom. The prerequisite for this offer is, that Alstom agrees to give Siemens access to the company's data room and permission to interview the management during a period of four weeks, to enable Siemens to carry out a suitable due diligence,'' the Munich-based company said in a release.

On Sunday, Siemens barged into Alstom's late-stage talks to sell its energy assets to General Electric Co (GE) by proposing an asset swap deal worth $14.5 billion. (See: Siemens barges into Alstom - GE deal with asset-swap offer)

Without disclosing details, Siemens on Sunday said that it had ''submitted a letter to Alstom to signal its willingness to discuss future strategic opportunities.''

GE was close to finalising a $13 billion deal to buy the Alstom's energy operations, which generates around 70 per cent of Alstom group sales of $20 billion.

French newspaper Le Figaro, which claims to have seen the letter, yesterday reported that Siemens is proposing an asset-swap deal, where it would give Alstom some of its high-speed train and locomotive businesses plus cash in exchange for Alstom's power business.

The deal does not include Siemens' metropolitan trains division. Le Figaro gave no details of the cash part of the deal.

French President François Hollande yesterday separately met head of GE, Jeff Immelt, Siemens president, Joe Kaeser, and French billionaire Martin Bouygues, Alstom's largest shareholder with a 29.4 per cent stake.

Although the French government had sold its stake in Alstom in 2006 and has no say in the sale, it sees red whenever an overseas company attempts to buy one of its prized jewels, very unlike the British government which responds only after an iconic national brand has been acquired.

The UK government was a silent spectator when Cadbury was desperately trying to ward off Kraft Foods for five months in 2009-2010, but changed the takeover laws only after Cadbury fell into the American company's lap.

The French government revealed how important this corporate takeover battle between an American and Germany company for a prized French asset is, when Hollande met the rival bidders on a day when several European heads of state were drawing up plans to impose additional sanctions on Russia.

Alstom is a French powerhouse - employing 93,000 people globally, of which 18,000 of them in France. It symbolizes the technological and industrial might of France through its high-speed TGV trains that connect Paris to London via the Eurotunnel, as well as its turbines, which runs one-third of the world's nuclear plants.

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