Shares in Alstom jumped more than 14 per cent on Thursday after a report that US conglomerate General Electric was in talks to buy the struggling French turbine and train maker for about $13 billion.
The companies may announce the deal as early as next week, Bloomberg cited people with knowledge of the matter as saying in a report late on Wednesday.
If confirmed, a takeover offer from a foreign company would raise eyebrows among politicians and unions in France, where Alstom employs around 18,000 staff, or 20 per cent of its global workforce.
The group was bailed out by the French state a decade ago and has strongly relied on orders from national rail operator SNCF and utility EDF.
A deal, which would be GE’s biggest ever and would hand it control of Alstom’s high-speed TGV trains and rail-signal technology, has the support of Bouygues, Alstom’s biggest shareholder with a 29 per cent stake, the report said.
Alstom, which has put its transport division up for sale in an attempt to fill a hole in its balance sheet, said on Thursday it was “not informed of any potential public tender offer for the shares of the company” and promised an update on its options when it releases annual results on May 7.