When GE moved to buy the energy and transport assets of Alstom (ALSMY), it all seemed straightforward. In GE's words, the alliance would "create jobs and global energy and transport champions in France."
Not so fast.
French industrial policy is not straightforward -- especially when one of their larger industrial names has a couple of its key divisions subject to a bid by a foreign behemoth like GE. After some undignified behind-the-scenes lobbying for an alternative solution on Monday, details emerged of a complex joint bid from Siemens (SIEGY) of Germany and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHVYF) of Japan. Alstom is up 1.3% today as of noon, while Siemens and Mitsubishi are steady.
This Siemens/Mitsubishi bid is complicated, with multiple joint ventures proposed. But it also incorporates job guarantees and an explicit promise that Alstom would remain "a major French-listed group."
In a politically uncharged world, simplicity generally beats complexity. But in this situation, the most independent observers know what the likely outcome is going to be.
There is talk this morning that GE may present a slightly amended bid, but I doubt if this will change the end outcome.