(Adds details, background)
PARIS, June 22 The French state has secured an
option to buy 20 percent of Alstom from Bouygues
, Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg said on Sunday,
clearing the way for an agreed tie-up between Alstom and General
"We have a purchase option that enables us to buy when the
price is as low as possible," he told France 2 television.
Bouygues will initially lend Alstom stock to the French
state so that the government can exercise an immediate role as
the group's main shareholder, he added.
The deal resolves a stand-off between Bouygues and the
government that had threatened to complicate a wide-ranging
alliance between Alstom and the U.S. conglomerate.
After substantial revisions to address French concerns, the
GE deal won government backing on Friday on condition that the
state successfully acquired the Alstom stake from Bouygues.
The government and Bouygues sought to reach a deal before
the expiry on Monday of GE's formal bid valuing the Alstom
energy business at 12.35 billion euros ($16.77 billion).
For the next 20 months, their eleventh-hour agreement hands
the state an option to purchase 20 percent of Alstom from
Bouygues at an unspecified discount, provided the market value
is at least 35 euros per share.
If by then the state has not bought 20 percent, either from
Bouygues or on the market, it has the right to purchase up to 15
percent at a similar discount whatever the market price. Alstom
shares closed at 28.00 euros on Friday.
($1 = 0.7366 Euros)
(Reporting by Laurence Frost and Ingrid Melander; editing by