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PARIS, June 22 (Reuters) - 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 Electric.
“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 Mark John)