German industrial group Siemens and French rival Alstom have agreed to merge their rail operations, creating a European champion to better withstand the international advance of Chinese state-owned CRRC. Sonia Legg reports
The French political statements came before a deal had even been confirmed. An anticipated merger between the rail operations of France's Alstom and Germany's Siemens requiring reassurances. (SOUNDBITE) (French) JUNIOR ECONOMY MINISTER BENJAMIN GRIVEAUX, SAYING: "In the assumption of a merger between the two companies the state will make sure of one thing: that this marriage will be one of equals, the value of those two companies being very close." Job guarantees were the other demand as the industry consolidates to compete with China. (SOUNDBITE) (French) JUNIOR ECONOMY MINISTER BENJAMIN GRIVEAUX, SAYING: "The rail construction and signalling market is in a state of advanced consolidation. "The Chinese group CRRC is bigger than Alstom, Siemens and Canada's Bombardier combined. The next step for this group is realistically Continental Europe where it could rely on a purchase of a European manufacturer." The French government has a 20 per cent stake in Alstom. And Emmanuel Macron is keen to strengthen French industry through partnerships with German firms. He'll be relieved that Siemens appears to have chosen Alstom over Canada's Bombardier - creating the railway sector's answer to Airbus in aviation .