Only five years ago French heavy engineer and telecoms group Alstom was struggling so much it sold its energy transmission and distribution business to nuclear specialist Areva for just under a billion euros.
Now it is buying it back for just over four billion in cash and shares. Sounds like a poor deal, but some are wondering why the company is not accepting other deals from foreign investors. Toshiba is offering more money, and some say both it and other bidder General Electric would shake up the market and bring other benefits. Alstom seemed to have deployed the conclusive argument for Areva, which is 92 percent state-owned, and is effectively privatising 38 percent of its turnover. Alstom has vowed to preserve employment and plants until 2012, but unions say keeping the enterprise entirely French will be the worst option for jobs. However the conclusive argument, for Alstom at least, may have come from its boss’s close friend, French president Nicolas Sarkozy.