Siemens to make Alstom Bid

Germany's Siemens is currently working on a formal asset-swap offer for Alstom's power business that could come to light later this week, seeing France take a stake in a resulting rail-focussed French group, sources told Reuters this week.

Alstom is already in talks with US conglomerate General Electric over a 12.35 billion euro ($16.9 billion) bid for its power business, which is up for review by the 2nd of June. However, under strong political pressure, it has opened its books to Siemens so it can propose its own deal if it wishes.

A rival offer such as this would give the French government more leverage with General Electric after giving itself the power to block foreign takeovers in "strategic sectors". Repeatedly criticising GE's bid, the French government favours an alliance between the companies rather than a straight sale of Alstom's power arm, which accounts for 70 percent of the group's revenue; leaving the French group with the smaller transport side of the business.

Siemens has warmed to the idea of an alternative European tie-up between Alstom and themselves. Sources say that Siemens has been refining its bid to make it more attractive to Alstom and the French government.

"Siemens is presenting the following case: It will create national champions in trains and energy. Everything will be kept in Europe. It has offered some new elements, which sweeten its proposal," one source familiar with the deal said.

GE still remains ahead in the race for Alstom's assets as a company spokesperson claimed: "We are not at the stage where we are negotiating with Siemens a contract that could be signed tomorrow."