France clears GE/Alstom power and signalling deal

Alstom is to acquire GE Transportation’s signalling business for $800 million as part of a complex deal which sees the American giant gain most of Alstom’s energy assets.

Since GE made its bid around two months ago Siemens and Mistubishi Heavy Industries have pushed hard with a counter-offer, but following the agreement of French construction company Bouygues to loan 20% of Alstom shares (it holds 29.3%) on June 22 the way is clear for GE to conclude its deal. Bouygues will surrender its two board seats, effectively making the French government the main shareholder. The government is being loaned the shares for 20 months, during which time it can buy the shares at a 2-5% discount if the stock market price is €35 or greater.

GE Transportation’s signalling portfolio is comprehensive, with ERTMS, CBTC and Positive Train Control systems and a range of associated equipment including interlockings, train detection and operational control centres.

From Alstom’s point of view, while it loses much of its energy business it retains its system-wide capabilities in rail, and will have a much greater presence in the North American market. It also means that concerns about France’s flagship TGV trains being built by a foreign company are in abeyance. Subject to regulatory approval the deal with GE is expected to be concluded early next year.

It is another deal which shrinks the number of suppliers in the signalling sector, however. How will it affect the market? Let us know your thoughts…

GE interested in Ansaldo STS – Reuters

The Reuters news agency is reporting that General Electric is interested in acquiring Ansaldo STS. Finnmeccanica, which owns 40% of the company, has been seeking to sell its share for some time to reduce debt.

Ansaldo STS has won some high-profile business recently, including signalling contracts in Algeria and a share of the $US 680 million contract to build a metro network in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. However, the company has also been dogged by quality issues, most notably the V250 Fyra high-speed trains ordered for service between Belgium and the Netherlands.

The acquisition would provide GE with its own in-house ERTMS solution, and access to a range of signalling sectors that it does not currently operate in. Ansaldo STS, meanwhile, would surely only gain from being part of a company of GE’s scale.

Will a deal be good for the signalling sector? Let us know what you think…

 

Gearing up for InnoTrans

Crowds at InnoTrans 2010

InnoTrans 2012 is set to be the biggest and most spectacular rail exhibition yet.

With less than a week to go the whole world’s rail industry is gearing up for InnoTrans in Berlin, and signalling and train control are set to play a major part in the show.

As ERTMS/ETCS and Positive Train Control are now at a much greater level of technical maturity than even at 2010’s exhibition, it seems likely that the focus of signalling and train control suppliers will be on incremental improvements to existing product ranges, and on their mix of services. We can also expect progress on the latest and most challenging metro, conventional and high-speed rail projects to play a major part in company presentations.

As one would expect, the world’s major companies are there – including www.intelligentsignalling.com sponsor Invensys Rail – all showcasing their latest developments. A larger than ever array of Asian exhibitors will be there too, capitalising on the strong growth in rail services across the continent.

Intelligentsignalling.com will be blogging live from InnoTrans throughout the show to highlight the best in signalling technologies: keep abreast of developments via the webpage, or our twitter feed at railsignals.