Siemens has written to Alstom seeking information for a possible bid for the French energy and transportation company, French Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg says.
The Germany company “wrote this morning to Alstom to request details, deepen its knowledge of Alstom, with the aim evidently of developing, most likely, an offer,” Montebourg told lawmakers in parliament.
US group General Electric has made an offer of 12.35 billion euros ($A18 billion) for Alstom’s energy division.
Energy activities – which include power generation and transmission – account for about 70 per cent of Alstom’s business but the company is better known as a railway equipment maker that manufactures France’s prized TGV high-speed trains
French officials led by Montebourg have encouraged Siemens to outline a counter proposal, but it has yet to make a firm offer.
The board of Alstom has said that it will decide by the end of May which of the two offers it prefers, although it has already signalled that it prefers the General Electric proposal.
In a tweet Montebourg wrote that the Siemens letter included an “outline of an alliance” it would like with Alstom.
The French government has extended the powers it has to vet and block foreign investment in strategic sectors to now include energy, water, transport, health and telecoms.
It has made clear that it prefers industrial alliances that would keep technology and manufacturing in France.
Montebourg said the government was trying to ensure the best outcome for Alstom and the French economy.