June 20 - France has chosen General Electric to form an alliance with Alstom, rejecting a joint offer from Siemens and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. But the French government said the deal still needed some work and also said it would buy a 20% stake in Alstom. Joanna Partridge reports
The race for French firm Alstom's power arm is over. It was one of the fiercest industrial battles in Europe in recent years. French Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg said neither the General Electric or Siemens-Mitsubishi Heavy Industries offers met the government's demands. But Paris will work with GE on a new proposal. SOUNDBITE: French Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg, saying (French): "The President authorised me to use the decree from the 14 May 2014 relating to foreign investments in France in the case of the offer General Electric made for Alstom, applying the most rigorous and respectful conditions, and in the interests of France, to guarantee our energy independence and the creation of jobs nationally and to keep the decision-making centres in France." The government wants Alstom's nuclear business to be maintained in a 50:50 joint venture, with France holding the golden share. Montebourg said they had told GE their new demands. The French state will buy a 20% stake in Alstom from Bouygues, becoming its main shareholder. A source said the price for that stake was being finalised. Both GE and Siemens MHI had improved their initial offers for Alstom's energy arm - and executives from all firms went to visit the government on Friday. But from the outset, Paris gave itself the power to veto any deal which threatened French jobs and strategic national activities.