The Euronext stock exchange has halted trading on shares of French conglomerate Alstom amid rumors of a pending acquisition of the firm’s power generation arm by General Electric (NYSE: GE). At the request of market regulator Autorité des marchés financiers all trading activity for Paris-based Alstom has been suspended until official word is issued by the company concerning the possible deal.
Alstom saw an 11 percent spike on its shares Thursday in response to speculation of a possible takeover of its power segment by GE that could be valued at as much as $13 billion. Prior to news of the pending negotiations, Alstom had seen a drop of nearly 20 percent in its share value over the last 12 months.
Several news outlets citing two unspecified sources close to the discussions reported a deal could be announced as early as next week. According to these reports the unnamed sources said the deal had the support of Alstom shareholder Bouygues SA (EN), which holds a 29 percent stake in the company.
If completed the acquisition would represent a very rare circumstance in which a U.S. competitor would take control of a French industrial major. Although the deal and talks surrounding it have not been confirmed by either GE or Alstom, the prospect of a foreign takeover was enough to elicit public comment from Arnaud Montebourg, France’s economy minister in an interview with French publication Le Monde.
“Alstom is the symbol of our industrial power and French ingenuity,” Mr. Montebourg told Le Monde, adding “the government expresses its concern and patriotic vigilance,” before also expressing that the government would be exploring alternatives.