Friday

1st Mar 2024

EU approves US takeover of French engineering giant

After a six-month competition probe, the European Commission approved Tuesday (8 September) the acquisition of France's Alstom by General Electric (GE) of the US.

The €12.5 billion deal "would not harm effective competition on EU markets" after GE agreed to sell off parts of Alstom's heavy duty gas turbines business to Italian company Ansaldo, competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said at a press conference in Strasbourg.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • GE will have to sell Alstom's heavy duty gas turbine business in Europe (Photo: Alstom)

GE will nevertheless have to get the commission's approval of the effective divestiture before it can go ahead with the merger.

The commission launched a probe in February over "potential competition concerns" on the heavy duty gas turbine market.

"There was a great risk of choice going down and prices going up," Vestager said, adding that Ansaldo would "be able to replace Alstom's role on this important market".

"Eighty percent of the merger was unproblematic," she said, because GE and Alstom activities complemented each other and did not alter competition.

General Electric's takeover of Alstom was announced in June 2014.

At the time, GE won a battle against the French government, which first opposed the deal, and tried to seal an alliance between Alstom, which it called "a national jewel", and Germany's Siemens.

The government accepted the deal when it was agreed that the French state would acquire 20 percent of Alstom, which remains a world leader in the rail industry.

GE also committed to invest €2.6 billion in the three sectors of the venture: steam turbines for nuclear plants, energy networks, and renewable energies.

The merger will reinforce General Electric's position as world leader in the electricity plants market.

Vestager said the deal was important for Europe because "it shows that Europe is open for business", provided that "you play by the same rules as anyone else".

Also important, she said, was the fact that the deal would "ensure that existing European know-how is preserved and that there is room for future high-tech innovation".

The commissioner praised the good cooperation between her services and the antitrust division of the US Department of Justice and took the opportunity to speak highly of the transatlantic free-trade agreement (TTIP) under discussion between the EU and the US.

"We have come a very long way with the TTIP," she said.

EU envisages soft touch Energy Union

According to an internal document, the commission is floating monitoring and reporting instruments, but no strict measures to police proposed new rules.

EU supply chain law fails, with 14 states failing to back it

Member states failed on Wednesday to agree to the EU's long-awaited Corporate Sustainable Due Diligence Directive, after 13 EU ambassadors declared abstention and one, Sweden, expressed opposition (there was no formal vote), EUobserver has learned.

Angry farmers block Brussels again, urge fix to 'unfair' prices

Following weeks of demonstrations across Europe, farmers returned to Brussels to protest over unfair competition in prices, as EU agriculture ministers met just a few metres away to discuss a response. The police used water cannon and tear gas.

Latest News

  1. Deepfake dystopia — Russia's disinformation in Spain and Italy
  2. Putin's nuclear riposte to Macron fails to impress EU diplomats
  3. EU won't yet commit funding UN agency in Gaza amid hunger
  4. EU Commission clears Poland's access to up to €137bn EU funds
  5. Right of Reply: The EU-ACP Samoa agreement
  6. The macabre saga of Navalny's corpse
  7. Belgium braces for Flemish far-right gains, deadlock looms
  8. Podcast: Hyperlocal meets supranational

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us