French ministers meet on Alstom as Siemens-Mitsubishi plan looms

PARIS, June 12 Thu Jun 12, 2014 4:52am EDT

PARIS, June 12 (Reuters) - The French government met on Thursday to discuss the fate of cash-strapped engineering group Alstom but gave little indication of its feelings towards a plan being hatched by Siemens and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

The German and Japanese groups said on Wednesday they were discussing a joint bid for Alstom's energy assets that would counter a rival $17 billion offer by U.S. conglomerate General Electric and would be worth around $9.8 billion, according to the Nikkei newspaper.

France has tried hard in recent weeks to drum up better offers for Alstom, which makes power turbines and trains, saying it wanted to preserve the country's jobs and industrial know-how and even giving itself powers to veto a deal.

Thursday's meeting brought together French President Francois Hollande, Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg and David Azema, the head of French state holding company APE.

Another meeting is scheduled next week, an official at the president's office said, stressing that the government did not favour one offer over the other at this stage.

"Our demands have never changed. What are our goals? To defend the country's energy independence, to maintain business and decision-making in France and to obtain the most favourable situation on the jobs front," the official said.

"It's against these criteria that we will continue to examine the proposals on the table. As far as our method goes we don't have a preference for this or that proposal, we have demands." (Reporting by Emmanuel Jarry; Writing by Natalie Huet; Editing by Andrew Callus)