French government plans to meet GE on Alstom future

PARIS (Reuters) - France's government weighed in to the furore over the future of the country's struggling engineering group Alstom on Friday and the stock market regulator forced a suspension of trading in its shares pending a company statement.

France's Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg told Le Monde newspaper he was concerned about the turbine and train maker's future after a report it was being considered for a takeover by U.S. conglomerate General Electric . He said he planned a meeting with GE management.

"The government expresses patriotic concern and watchfulness with regard to Alstom," he said. "This concern is focused on the serious risk of losing a major decision centre."

"With the prime minister (Manuel Valls), we will meet the president of General Electric in order to focus our talks on these concerns," he said, adding that he had met Alstom's chief executive on Thursday.

Speaking a day after Bloomberg reported GE was discussing a takeover with the transport and power group, a source close to the matter told Reuters Alstom would hold a board meeting on Friday afternoon.

Alstom declined to comment.

Shares of Alstom closed up 10.9 percent on Thursday after the Bloomberg report said it was in talks to buy it for about $13 billion (7 billion pounds).

(Reporting by Gilles Guillaume, Dominique Vidalon, John Irish and Raoul Sachs; Writing by Andrew Callus; Editing by Blaise Robinson)
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