Alstom board votes to accept General Electric bid

File photo: A French High Speed Train (TGV) made by French train maker Alstom at Nantes railway station, western France, 18 June 2014 Train and energy group Alstom employs 18,000 people in France

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The board of French rail and energy group Alstom has unanimously voted to accept an offer from General Electric.

US conglomerate GE is bidding $17bn (£10bn) for Alstom's energy business. The deal still needs regulators' and Alstom staff representatives' approval.

The French government agreed to support the deal, which will involve the state buying a 20% stake in Alstom, and other steps to protect French interests.

A rival offer from Siemens-Mitsubishi Heavy Industries was rejected.

GE chief Jeff Immelt said the deal would be "good for France, GE and Alstom".

If approved, the deal is expected to be completed in 2015. Reports say it would be GE's largest ever industrial acquisition.

Assurances given

Under the deal, GE will sell its railway signal business to Alstom, and set up three joint ventures with the French company.

The joint ventures would cover Alstom's power grid business, renewable operations, and nuclear steam turbines.

Alstom employs about 18,000 people in France. The government had asked for assurances that French energy and transport interests and jobs would be safeguarded.

It plans to acquire a controlling stake in Alstom by buying shares from French group and main shareholder Bouygues.

However, the government wants to pay market price (28 euros per share) while Bouygues is demanding about 35 euros per share.

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