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Siemens, Alstom’s champion plan derailed

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A combination of two file photographs shows the logos of Siemens AG company (top) in Berlin October 9, 2012 and of French power and transport engineering company Alstom in Reichshoffen near Haguenau, North Eastern France, April 24, 2014. REUTERS/Staff

BRUSSELS, Jan 18 (Reuters) – Siemens and Alstom’s plan to create a European rail champion to take on a Chinese rival has failed to win over EU antitrust regulators despite German and French backing, people familiar with the matter said on Friday.

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The EU veto, to be announced early next month, could push Siemens to float its own in-house rail technology division, called Siemens Mobility, while keeping a stake.

The rail merger deal would have created the world’s second largest rail company with combined revenues of around 15 billion euros ($17.05 billion), roughly half the size of China’s state-owned CRRC Corp Ltd but twice the size of Canada’s Bombardier.

Germany and France support the deal, saying it would help secure the competitiveness of the European rail industry. However, European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager has said Europe cannot build industrial champions by undermining competition.

Her veto could spur the two countries to step up efforts to modify the bloc’s competition rules, among the most powerful in the world, to take into account unfettered non-EU rivals and US tech giants, although it will not be an easy battle.

German conglomerate Siemens has already offered to license parts of its high-speed train business and sell parts of its signalling operations after the European Commission voiced concerns.

Siemens had initially offered to share its high-speed train technology, which allows trains to travel faster than 250 kilometres per hour, for five years with third parties.

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