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Alstom's rejection is good for Siemens

Siemens has come off second best to the American firm General Electric in the battle to acquire the French rival Alstom. However, it is not a defeat to the Munich-based German conglomerate, says DW's Henrik Böhme.

The German national football team's recent hard-fought draw against Ghana in the World Cup could yet prove to be a good outcome. The result could be seen as a warning shot at the right time, so to speak, after the euphoria that threatened to spread after the grand victory in the opening match against Portugal.

It is a similar situation in the case of Siemens' supposed defeat against General Electric (GE) in the bid to acquire Alstom. As GE now enters into a deal with the French giant, the development opens up several promising prospects for Munich-based Siemens.

First of all, the Americans had a clear edge and knew the cards in this game earlier than Siemens' bosses. But the French government asked for an offer as it felt that it was not sufficiently informed by Alstom's management about the negotiations with GE. One might now think that Siemens was called in only to push the offer price for Alstom upward. It may have been the case, but not necessarily.

Siemens, after all, got sufficient time to go through the French company's books and it has better knowledge of Alstom's condition now than before. This could give rise to new opportunities in the not-too-distant future.

GE, on the other hand, will now take months to wrap up the extremely complex deal, and always in consultation with the government in Paris, which has now summarily become Alstom's largest shareholder.

Against this backdrop, it is uncertain whether GE CEO Jeff Immelt will have long-lasting joy for acquiring Alstom. Although Immelt could boast about his win over arch-rival Siemens, it could be a victory that leads to defeat. Furthermore, there are the battle-scarred French trade unions and anti-trust authorities, who can throw plenty of spanners in the works of the Americans.

While GE now needs a lot of strength for its real work, namely the implementation of the deal, Siemens can calmly attend to its own business as there is plenty to do. CEO Joe Kaeser recently announced a complete overhaul of the firm and a sideshow like the acquisition of Alstom could have only been a hindrance. But now Siemens will expand its market position in one country: Not in China, but in the United States.

The Siemens CEO has passed his first real test. He brought to the table an initial offer in no time and without hesitation, after Paris had urged him to present a bid for Alstom. Kaeser also displayed readiness to act and flexibility as he quickly brought Japan's Mitsubishi on board. And who knows, the GE boss might suddenly again lose his sudden love for the old continent. It takes only one step sometimes for a victory to turn to defeat.