France Approves of Siemens/Alstom Tie-up if Jobs Spared
Earlier on Friday, Le Monde newspaper reported Siemens was in advanced talks to combine its rail activities with Alstom in a deal that could be announced on Sept. 26.
"It is important that we can strengthen our industrial sectors ... in partnership with Germany," government spokesman Christophe Castaner told journalists in response to a question about the tie-up.
"There is no concern on the French side when big companies are working together if synergies do not come at the expense of jobs," he said.
Siemens has held tie-up talks with both Alstom and Canadian group Bombardier and had been expected to pick a preferred partner for detailed negotiations within days, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters on Thursday.
If the deal with Alstom goes through, Siemens would have a slight majority, 50 percent plus several shares, but Alstom's French CEO Henri Poupart-Lafarge would head the merged company, a source familiar with the transaction told Reuters on Friday.
But there was no decision yet for or against Alstom, the source said.
"The prospects are better with Alstom," another source with knowledge of the situation said. "Everything is still open, there's a lot of movement."
Alstom is in a stronger financial position than Bombardier, the second source said. Bombardier also wants control of the new group which was not acceptable to Siemens while Franco-German politics aligned over a Siemens-Alstom deal, the source said.
According to Le Monde, Siemens would contribute rail assets valued at 7 billion euros ($8.4 billion) in return for 45-50 percent stake in Alstom under the deal being studied.
The proposed tie-up is also being discussed between French President Emmanuel Macron's staff and their German counterparts in Angela Merkel's chancellery, Le Monde reported.
Siemens and Alstom both declined to comment.