France says won EU backing for takeover decree

PARIS, July 10 Thu Jul 10, 2014 9:34am EDT

PARIS, July 10 (Reuters) - France has received EU backing for a new decree allowing the government to block foreign takeovers of French companies in strategic industries, Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg said on Thursday.

In a surprise move, the government widened in May its control over mergers in industries deemed key to France's national interests as General Electric was seeking to buy the energy assets of French group Alstom.

"The European Commission in recent days notified the French government of its approval of the decree as perfectly in line with European treaties," Montebourg said in a speech.

"It was used in the General Electric-Alstom case. It will be used again in certain sensitive sectors such as water, health, national defence, gaming, transport, energy and telecommunications," he added. (Reporting by Ingrid Melander; writing by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Maya Nikolaeva)

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