PARIS (AP) — Alstom's chief executive says the French heavy engineering firm's agreement to sell off most of its power generation business to U.S. rival General Electric Co. will save jobs and protect France's national interests.
The $17 billion deal was agreed over the weekend after weeks of international negotiations that reached the highest levels of French politics. The government was worried that the GE takeover would cause layoffs and hand foreign owners too much influence over a major industrial player — especially one like Alstom, which makes power plant equipment and pioneered TGV high-speed trains.
Alstom CEO Patrick Kron said Monday on Europe-1 radio that the deal with GE "is a combination of Alstom's qualities and GE's economic strength."
After the deal is completed, Kron will be left running the company's train, tram and railway signaling business, which accounts for around a quarter of the group's total sales and operating profit. GE will take over Alstom's money-spinning gas turbine business, while the two companies keep equal stakes in the small renewable energy and power grid businesses.
The French state will also buy a stake in the new rump Alstom from construction giant Bouygues SA.