Alstom says to sell stakes in joint ventures with GE

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Paris (AFP)

The head of Alstom said Thursday that the French rail company will excercise its options to sell its stakes in joint ventures with US industrial conglomerate General Electric.

Alstom sold off its power and grid businesses to GE in 2015 for 9.7 billion euros (now worth $11.5 billion) to focus on its rail business, including its TGV fast trains.

In order to secure the deal for Alstom's prized gas turbine unit -- a large, lucrative business with long-term contracts and income stream in a sector in which GE was already the world leader -- the US company had to create three new joint ventures covering renewable energy, electricity grids and nuclear power.

But in September Alstom agreed to be swallowed by German rival Siemens in a deal seen aimed at becoming sufficiently large to compete with state-run Chinese rival CRRC Corp, the world's biggest train maker which was formed via a merger of two Chinese firms in 2014.

"We are exiting", said Alstom's chief executive Henri Poupart-Lafarge. "It's true that Alstom's old energy activities didn't find their place in this operation".

GE will have "complete and whole ownership", he added.

The French government's national security concerns about the nuclear power business means discussions about possible restrictions need to be held.

The announcement by Alstom comes a week after GE announced it will slash 12,000 jobs from its power unit amid anaemic global demand for gas turbines and other power equipment.

The money from the sale should allow for the payment of a special dividend to shareholders before the merger.