EU holds off approval of Alstom rescue deal

24th May 2004, Comments 0 comments

BRUSSELS, May 24 (AFP) - The EU's competition watchdog insisted Monday it needs to see "clear commitments" from France before it can approve a multi-million euro rescue plan for struggling engineering group Alstom.

BRUSSELS, May 24 (AFP) - The EU's competition watchdog insisted Monday it needs to see "clear commitments" from France before it can approve a multi-million euro rescue plan for struggling engineering group Alstom.

EU competition commissioner Mario Monti said that weekend talks had still failed to produce a breakthrough hoped for by French authorities to save Alstom, one of the jewels in the French engineering crown.

Monti made his demands clear in "comprehensive" talks with French Finance Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, said a statement by the Commission, the EU's executive arm.

"Mr. Monti notably reiterated the need for clear commitments concerning industrial partnerships to be finalized - within an agreed timetable - in a significant proportion of Alstom's activities," it said.

Alstom employs 75,000 people worldwide and builds ships, high-speed trains and power plants.

But it ran up a record EUR 1.38 billion loss (USD 1.65 billion) in 2002-2003 and is saddled with heavy debt.

Efforts to keep it afloat have been under way since September, with France and EU competition authorities looking for a formula that respects EU regulations on state assistance to private companies.

Sarkozy and Monti said after talks in Brussels last Monday that they hoped for a deal by the end of the week.

On Monday the commission indicated that work was continuing to strike a deal, but insisted that "commitments regarding industrial partnerships are essential to (secure) the Commission's accord.

Such pledges "are a precondition both to ensure Alstom's viability and to provide the necessary balance to resolve competition distortions created by state aid," it added.


© AFP

Subject: French news

 

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