May 19, 2014 / 9:35 AM / in 4 years

UPDATE 2-Hollande urges govt to seek better Alstom offers

(Updates with Hollande’s call to ministers)

PARIS, May 19 (Reuters) - French President Francois Hollande told key ministers on Monday to keep seeking better offers from potential suitors of power and train-making firm Alstom , an official at his office said.

Hollande made the call at a meeting on Alstom attended by Prime Minister Manuel Valls, Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg and Segolene Royal, minister for the environment and energy.

“The president asked the ministers who attended to continue to work for an improvement in the various proposals in the interest of jobs, the location of decision-making centres and of energy self-sufficiency,” said the official at his office.

Monday’s meeting - which the official said was called to “take stock of the situation in the Alstom case” - took place aas Germany’s Siemens mulls a possible rival deal with Alstom alongside that proposed by U.S. group General Electric.

Siemens is working on a formal asset-swap offer for Alstom’s power business that could come as early as this week and see France take a stake in a resulting rail-focused French group, sources have told Reuters.

Alstom is already in talks with U.S. conglomerate General Electric over a 12.35 billion euro ($16.9 billion) bid for its power arm, which it is due to review by June 2.

However, under pressure from the French government, it has opened its books to Siemens so the German company can propose its own deal if it wants to.

Sources on both sides of the talks said Siemens was actively working on an improved asset-swap offer that would create two European “champions”: one in power around Siemens, one in transport around Alstom.

In a short letter to Alstom late last month, Siemens had outlined a proposal worth $14.5 billion, offering to exchange part of its rail business plus cash in exchange for Alstom’s power assets. ($1 = 0.7297 Euros) (Reporting by Julien Ponthus; Writing by Brian Love; Editing by James Regan and Mark John)

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