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General Electric makes new guarantees on jobs in revised offer for Alstom's power business

PARIS - General Electric Co. on Thursday submitted a revised offer to buy the power generation business of France's Alstom SA that the American company hopes will be enough to win approval from the French government and see off a rival bid by Germany's Siemens AG.

GE says its new offer revises the $17 billion cash offer for Alstom's power business it made in April, adding new guarantees on sensitive concerns over jobs and decision-making, while leaving the deal's overall value unchanged.

In a statement, GE Chief Executive Jeff Immelt said the revised offer was the result of seven weeks of discussions with the French government. The new offer "creates jobs, establishes headquarters decision-making in France and ensures that the Alstom name will endure," Immelt said.

Whereas the original offer entailed a clear-cut cash buyout of Alstom's power business, GE's new proposal calls for the two companies to set up three 50/50 joint ventures: one for the power grid businesses, another for the offshore wind and hydro-power operations, and a third for the nuclear steam turbines business.

Siemens and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries of Japan presented a rival offer Wednesday, and an independent committee of Alstom's board is slated to review both offers and make a recommendation to the entire board before Monday.

Alstom CEO Patrick Kron has made clear his preference for the GE tie-up, which he himself had a role in negotiating. Siemens and Mitsubishi emerged as rival bidders after the French government expressed reserves about seeing the historic French company fall under American sway.

GE reiterated its demand that Alstom's board take a decision on accepting the deal by June 23.

The Canadian Press

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