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France backs General Electric’s $17 billion bid for Alstom

French engineering group Alstom's flag.Photograph by Patrick Kovarik — AFP/Getty Images

The French government has approved General Electric’s (GE) $17 billion bid to buy Alstom’s energy unit, the French economic minister Arnaud Montebourg announced Friday.

The government plans to purchase a 20% stake in Alstom from Bouygues, another France-based company, prior to the deal’s completion. The ownership will formalize French sway over decisions made by the maker of the country’s recognizable bullet trains.

The amended deal calls for Alstom to sell its gas turbine business to GE and half of its steam turbine and renewable energy units, while GE will sell Alstom its train-signaling unit for about 1 billion euros ($1.4 billion).

Alstom’s board is set to discuss the offer later Friday, Montebourg said.

The deal follows an extended negation between GE and the French government over the deal.