PARIS May 22 The French government is studying
an all-French solution for Alstom that could involve
public funds to strengthen the engineering group if no deal is
reached with suitors General Electric or Siemens
, Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg said on Thursday.
Montebourg first floated this "plan C" during a meeting with
Alstom representatives on Wednesday evening, presenting it as an
alternative to the $16.9 billion bid from U.S.-based GE to buy
Alstom's power arm, and to a rival expression of interest from
"We have launched a study of plan C," Montebourg told
Reuters on the sidelines of a building visit in Paris.
"Plan A is GE, plan B is Siemens, plan C is a home-based
solution," he said, adding that the government was still working
on this third option that would involve French capital, whether
from privately-owned companies or state-owned companies.
According to two trade unionists who met Montebourg on
Wednesday, the minister said the proposals from GE and Siemens
were both unacceptable as they stood.
He said the government was seeking better offers and was
ready to use a decree it issued last week to widen its power to
block foreign takeovers in strategic sectors.
The minister also told the trade unionists that the
government would look at the opportunity of taking a stake in
Alstom to strengthen the cash-strapped company, which already
received a state bailout a decade ago, and have a bigger say in
"He said he had asked his services to study a plan C in the
spirit of the one that was done in 2003," said Philippe Pillot,
a Force Ouvriere union representative at Alstom Transport.
Back in 2003, the French state took a 21 percent stake in
Alstom worth 720 million euros ($984 million).
An Alstom spokeswoman declined to comment.
Alstom is already in talks with GE over a 12.35 billion euro
bid for its power arm, which it is due to review by the end of
May. However, under strong political pressure, it has opened its
books to Siemens so it can propose its own deal if it wants to.
The French government has repeatedly criticised GE's bid,
favouring an alliance between the companies rather than a
straight sale of Alstom's power arm that would leave the French
group with just its smaller transport business.
Paris has advocated instead a European tie-up between Alstom
and Siemens that would create "industry champions" in power and
transport. Siemens has not yet made a formal offer.($1 = 0.7318
(Reporting by Natalie Huet and Yann Le Guernigou; Editing by