Siemens-Alstom Meet EU’s Vestager Over Troubled Rail Deal

(Bloomberg) -- Siemens AG and Alstom SA executives met European Union Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager on Tuesday in what may be a last-ditch bid to rescue their troubled rail deal, said two people familiar with the matter.

The talks with the bloc’s antitrust chief come a day after EU officials delivered the companies a gloomy assessment of feedback on proposed sell-offs of overlapping units intended to allay concerns over the tie-up, said one of the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Unless the companies can offer more concessions, they may face a formal veto, essentially killing a French-German business alliance designed to create a European train-making champion big enough to take on Asian rivals. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, who initially promoted the deal as a role model for European business, said Sunday it would be a "political mistake" for the EU to block it.

Alstom, Siemens and the European Commission in Brussels all declined to comment on the talks.

The deal has been facing headwinds for weeks. Rail network operators called for a merger veto and smaller competition authorities took the rare step of publicly criticizing the companies’ concessions as insufficient. While the EU has until Feb. 18 to rule on the deal, it often needs to agree potential asset sales more than a month in advance.

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