German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Siemens AG (SIE) Chief Executive Officer Joe Kaeser spoke by phone about the bid by Europe’s biggest engineering company for the energy business of France’s Alstom SA. (ALO)
The conversation took place at Kaeser’s request, German government spokeswoman Christiane Wirtz said in Berlin, without disclosing when they spoke. Kaeser suggested earlier that Merkel sought details about Siemens’s bid and the implications for German and European industry.
“We speak on a regular basis about many things and obviously she wanted to know what this was all about,” Kaeser said in a Bloomberg Television interview in Berlin. “We discussed the opportunities; we discussed the risks. We also discussed what this could mean for Europe.”
Siemens is seeking to counter a $17 billion offer by General Electric Co. (GE:US) for Alstom’s energy unit. As the companies seek Alstom’s business in turbines and other power equipment, they face demands by French President Francois Hollande’s government to guarantee jobs at Alstom, reducing the potential savings from a deal.
Kaeser and Siemens Chairman Gerhard Cromme met Hollande and Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg on April 28 in what the Siemens CEO called a “very open, trustful and amicable exchange.”
Wirtz declined to say whether Merkel and Hollande will discuss the issue when they meet on May 9-10 in Merkel’s constituency on the Baltic Sea coast.
At an earnings news conference in Berlin, Kaeser sought to retreat from comments during a trip to Russia in March suggesting that Russia’s annexation of Crimea is part of “short-term turbulences.” Since then, fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists has erupted in parts of Ukraine.
“Now the situation has escalated,” Kaeser said today. “I’m very concerned about the inability of global society not to get this done in a meaningful way.”
“Dialogue is the way to get things done,” said Kaeser, who met Russian President Vladimir Putin during his trip. “That doesn’t mean that you can tolerate unlawful behavior, but at the end the world is about solutions, not cold silence.”
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