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Mergers & Acquisitions

Siemens CEO licks wounds after Alstom defeat

Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser has shrugged off his defeat against General Electric (GE) over Alstom, saying the German offer was superior to GE's. Some are also criticizing the French government's role in the decision.

Siemens blames Alstom for not considering its bid

Siemens Chief Executive Joe Kaeser has blamed his Alstom counterpart Patrick Kron for rejecting his company's bid for the French turbine and train maker.

Siemens' offer had clearly been better in terms of jobs, company value and future perspectives, Kaeser told German mass-circulation newspaper Bild on Monday.

"Decisive in the end was the fundamental opposition to the Siemens offer by the Alstom chief," he said in an interview, adding that he was unwilling and unable to counter such a stance.

Following an unprecedented bidding war over Alstom in recent weeks, the board of the French industrial conglomerate on Saturday voted in favor of a partial merger with US-based engineering group General Electric (GE). Prior to the decision, the French government had supported the tie-up, saying, however, it would take a 20-percent stake in Alstom to secure its influence. In addition, Paris demanded that GE and Alstom formed joint ventures in its power division, granting veto powers to the government.

Part of the Siemens offer was a strong rail technology alliance in which Europe's leading manufacturers of high-speed trains would seek to explore new markets together.

Kaeser said the alliance had been intended to create a European champion with global outreach. The Siemens CEO added that the German company would continue to pursue this goal with different partners, which it was seeking primarily in the lucrative US rail market.

Criticism over state influence

In the meantime, criticism is mounting in Germany over the French government's strong-arm tactics in the battle for Alstom.

On Monday, a close ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel accused Paris of pursuing national interests in an ice-cold fashion. He also doubted that the French state had the fiscal means to buy such a large stake in Alstom, given its difficulties to meet EU deficit targets.

"The French government has clearly acted out its own national interests, one-sided French concerns, ahead of European interests, " Peter Ramsauer, Chairman of the German parliament's Economics Committee, told radio station Deutschlandfunk on Monday.

Ramsauer, who is a former transport minister in the Merkel cabinet, added that he would have liked to see the German government provide the same support to Siemens that the French did for Alstom.

Investors on Monday appeared undecided about whether or not the deal was good for Alstom. The share fluctuated heavily in early trading at the Paris Stock Exchange between gains of 4.3 percent down to a loss of 1.3 percent. Siemens shares were also weaker, trading 1.3 percent lower.

uhe/ (Reuters, dpa

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