The Finance minister of France Bruno Le Maire expressed his resentment at a decision taken by the European Union (EU) recently to stop a major rail merger between Alstom and Siemens. He demanded the competition rules be changed to enable European firms to become stronger on the global stage.
Bruno Le Maire told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble at the World Government Summit in Dubai on Sunday:
“Let’s have a look at reality — we are facing a huge challenge with the rise of the Chinese industry. What do we do — shall we divide the European forces, or try to merge the European forces from the industrial point of view?”
The EU put a pause to the rail merger between Alstom and Siemens because of competition concerns. The merger proposal between the French and the German companies planned to create revenues of about 15 billion euros ($17 billion). The merger included the companies’ transport services and would have combined them into one new firm, which would have been controlled by Siemens.
The EU’s competition authority claimed that such kind of a merger would create an “undisputed” market leader in several mainline signaling markets. Both the German and French governments supported this merger, with the belief that such a deal would’ve countered China’s economic rise.
Bruno Le Maire quoted:
“I strongly believe that the right solution is not more division, but more cooperation among French, German and other European companies. That’s exactly what we proposed with the merger between Alstom and Siemens… The Commission took that decision, of course, we will abide by that decision, but we will make very strong proposals to change the rules of competition and to allow European industrials to merge and to be stronger.”