DThe French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire sees no further obstacles to the proposed merger of the Siemens Railway Technology Division with its competitor Alstom as part of further concessions to the EU. "Alstom and Siemens have made new concessions to the European Commission," said Le Maire on radio station "France Inter" on Sunday. "There is no longer any justification for rejecting the merger by the European Commission." He also wrote on Twitter that there was nothing left to prevent the creation of a new world champion.
EU Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager, who had recently publicly expressed concern about the merger with Europe's largest rail technology group, promised to study the new proposals. "We look at what was handed over to us on Friday," she said at an event in Berlin, the Reuters news agency, on Sunday. This was the last option, if present.
Concessions on Friday
Reuters learned on Friday from an insider that the two companies are now ready to share Siemens' high-speed rail technology in Europe for ten years instead of five years earlier. Moreover, they said they were ready to expand the licenses outside Europe, but not to China, Japan and South Korea, said the person who was familiar with the case. In addition, they would make more Signaltechnik stores.
Whether the new concessions are sufficient for the approval of the merger is open. In order to convince the European Commission at such a late stage of the investigation, the EU competition rules must be completely abolished. The official test period for the project runs until 18 February. Insiders had said that Vestager wanted to speak on 6 February.
The EU Competition Commissioner was recently skeptical about the planned merger in the rail sector. "We are talking about two great companies that are able to compete," Vestager told the Times. They did not want to accept the company's argument that they should guard against the merger against the world's largest railroad group CRRC from China. "We looked closely at the Chinese presence on the market, but Alstom and Siemens are already world champions in their field, not just European champions."