January 13, 2019 / 3:34 PM / 7 days ago

German antitrust body opposes Siemens-Alstom merger: report

FILE PHOTO: The Siemens logo is seen on a building in Siemensstadt in Berlin, Germany, October 31, 2018. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany’s antitrust authority has expressed concerns to the European Union’s competition watchdog about the planned merger of the rail operations of Siemens (SIEGn.DE) and France’s Alstom (ALSO.PA), a newspaper reported on Sunday.

The EU watchdog is set to decide by Feb.18 whether to approve the merger, with French newspaper Les Echos reporting that the European Commission was likely to veto the merger, which would create a Franco-German rail champion.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said the German competition body had written a confidential letter to its EU counterpart stressing concerns about the planned deal and saying it completely shares the Commission’s reservations.

The German body said it did not believe that the recent pledges of both companies removed those competitive concerns, the paper cited the letter as saying.

The merger was designed to create a European champion to challenge the advance of China’s state-owned CRRC (601766.SS) and Canada’s Bombadier Transportation (BBDb.TO).

However, four other national regulators expressed their reservations about the merger in December, saying the two firms fell far short of addressing concerns over their deal.

The concerns over how the merger would affect competition center around the supply of very high-speed rolling stock for trains such as the Eurostar which links Britain, France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Siemens and Alstom are the two largest suppliers of this product in Europe.

Reporting by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Keith Weir

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