Bombardier could eventually join Siemens Alstom, says French finance minister

MONTREAL _ The merger between European railway manufacturers hasn’t ended with Alstom and Siemens, and could eventually see other players such as Bombardier joining the fold, France’s finance minister said Wednesday.

Testifying before France’s economic affairs committee, Bruno Le Maire described the Franco-German railway merger as inevitable as the industry consolidates in an attempt to compete with Chinese state-owned CRRC.

Pressed by the committee, Le Maire opened the door to Siemens-Alstom integrating with other players present in Europe.

“I am convinced that this consolidation will integrate, at the appropriate time, Bombardier (Transportation) and the Spanish manufacturer (CAF),” he said.

“My belief is that we will have an industrial overhaul in all sectors that will be much faster than we think.”

The minister agreed, however, that this could raise “competition” issues since Berlin-based Bombardier Transportation has large operations in Germany and France.

Bombardier (TSX:BBD.B) and Quebec’s Caisse de depot, which owns 30 per cent of Bombardier Transportation, declined to comment on Le Maire’s comments.

The alliance between Siemens and Alstom announced last week would create a railway manufacturing giant with 62,300 employees in more than 30 countries. The Paris-headquartered company is expected to generate US$18 billion of annual revenues, twice as much as Bombardier’s railway division.

The merger could harm Bombardier Transportation _ which was reportedly in talks with Siemens earlier this year _ even though some analysts believe the company could continue to do well without a partner.

“In a sector where there are three powers, it is better to be one of the two (first) powers,” added Le Maire.

“I prefer to be in the position of Alstom allied with Siemens rather than being in that of Bombardier today.”