NEW YORK (The Deal) -- French power-to-transport conglomerate Alstom on Thursday said it was not aware of any potential takeover offer for the company but without spelling out whether any discussions were taking place with General Electric (GE).
Citing people familiar with the talks, Bloomberg News reported earlier that GE is in talks to pay more than $13 billion for the maker of high-speed trains and hydro-, coal-, oil- and wind-powered energy plants.
If such a deal happens, it would be the biggest in the 122-year history of Fairfield, Conn.-based GE, which has been run by CEO Jeff Immelt since 2001. He will be able to finance the deal through GE's $57 billion in foreign cash reserves, Bloomberg News reported, citing one of the people familiar with the discussions.
GE shares closed at $26.42 Wednesday on Wall Street, down 0.60% from Tuesday. The stock is up 24.3% from over a year ago.Shares in Levaillas-Perret-based Alstom soared 11.9% in Paris on Thursday to 27.24 euros, putting its market capitalization at around 7.5 billion euros ($10.4 billion). Alstom, in its statement, sought to quash speculation about an imminent deal. "In response to recent speculation in the economic press, Alstom is not informed of any potential public tender offer for the shares of the company," it said, adding that the group "constantly reviews the strategic options of its businesses." Alstom said it will give an update "on the prospects of its activities" when it reports annual results on May 7. GE spokesman Greg Farrett said his company doesn't comment on M&A rumors or speculation. Under Immelt, GE has been steadily shrinking its massive GE Capital operation in the years since the unit almost sank the company during the financial crisis. At the same time, the company has been growing its energy and healthcare units, announcing plans this year to acquire the compression unit of Cameron International Corp. for $550 million and some life science assets of Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. for $1.06 billion. However, a purchase of Alstom would fall far outside the valuation range of $1 billion to $4 billion that Immelt stated in December he would stick to for M&A. GE is preparing to take its North American consumer lending business, previously called GE Capital Retail Finance and now known as SynchronyFinancial Inc., public in the second half of 2014. The company has said it hopes to completely exit that business by the end of 2015, although it has left the door open to an outright sale rather than an initial public offering or another disposal option.
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