EU antitrust commissioner to block Alstom-Siemens rail merger

The EU competition chief plans to block the planned rail merger between Alstom and Siemens, with the latter’s CEO labelling the decision ‘absolutely naïve’.

The EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager plans to block the planned rail merger between Siemens and Alstom.

Vestager intends to recommend vetoing the deal between the two train manufacturers, despite the pair making several last-minute remedies to appease the competition authorities concerns, according to reports.

Chinese rail giant CRRC left unchallenged

The planned merger had the support of both German and French politicians, with each side expressing discontent with EU’s antitrust regime, arguing that the deal is essential to stopping the world’s largest train manufacturer, Chinese state-owned CRRC, from dominating the European rail.

Over the weekend, French finance minister Bruno Le Maire said that ‘nothing can justify’ the merger being blocked, while his German counterpart Peter Altmaier stressed that his government was eager for this deal to go ahead.

‘The international market in this industry is fiercely competitive… we need big players, we need a European champion for that, which can cope with competition from companies in the US and China,’ Altmaier said on Wednesday.

‘That’s why I think this merger makes sense and is the right thing to do,’ he added.

Siemens CEO labels EU decision ‘absolutely naïve’

Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser admitted that the EU competition commissioner’s decision leaves little change of the deal proceeding, labelling the move ‘naïve’ and the antitrust regime in Brussels ‘backward’ during a press conference on Wednesday.

‘It is absolutely naive to believe that individual European states can actually stand by themselves against competition from China, America, even India at some point — that’s impossible,’ Kaeser said.

‘If we truly want to be global players, we need a common European foreign economic policy. That is crucial,’ he added.

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