FRENCH Finance and Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire defended plans to merge high-speed trainmaker Alstom with German giant Siemens yesterday.
Mr Le Maire claimed the deal was vital given growing competition from China to meet worldwide demand for high-speed trains, once exemplified by Alstom’s TGVs.
President Emmanuel Macron’s government has come under fire over the deal as the state owns 20 per cent of Alstom and has repeatedly intervened to save its jobs.
Alstom workers went on strike in September 2016 over plans to stop locomotive production at the company’s historic Belfort plant.
Mr Le Maire was also confident of a deal for Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri to take over Atlantic coast shipyard STX when Mr Macron met Italian PM Paolo Gentiloni later.
The deal was blocked this summer over concerns about job losses, angering Rome.
Daily paper Le Monde reported that both governments have agreed to give Fincantieri a 51 per cent stake in STX, with France allowed to take control back if needed.