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GE expects to succeed in Alstom deal

General Electric's chief executive said that he expects GE's US$17 billion offer for part of France's Alstom to be accepted, despite political opposition and a potential counter-bid from Germany's Siemens.

NEW YORK: General Electric's chief executive said on Wednesday that he expects GE's US$17 billion offer for part of France's Alstom to be accepted, despite political opposition and a potential counter-bid from Germany's Siemens.

"We think this deal is good for France. It's good for GE. It's good for Alstom," CEO Jeff Immelt said at a conference in Florida.

"And we're having constructive dialogues along those lines and we can accomplish that and still generate some great synergies for the business moving forward."

GE has run into opposition from French nationalists over its offer to buy Alstom's energy unit, which builds generators, turbines and transmission systems and would complement GE's own power industry division.

The unit accounts for 70 percent of Alstom's business, and would leave behind the railway equipment division that manufactures France's prized TGV high-speed trains.

Meanwhile Siemens, a major rival of both GE and Alstom, has expressed interest and, according to French Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg on Tuesday, is expected to make an offer for Alstom.

Immelt said he expects GE's offer to win. "It's a deal that's executable. It's a deal that we're experienced in. It's a deal we expect to close."

But Siemens and GE face a significant political hurdle in their offers.

Last week the French government passed a new law that would allow the government to veto unwanted foreign takeovers of major French companies, including the GE-Alstom deal

"The fundamental role of the state is to protect the strategic interests of France," Finance Minister Michel Sapin said.

"This is true in France as it is true in any other country" seeking to safeguard national interests.

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