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GE unlikely to gain unconditional approval for Alstom deal: sources

[BRUSSELS] General Electric is unlikely to gain unconditional European Union clearance for its 12.4 billion euro (US$13.85 billion) bid for Alstom's power equipment business, two sources familiar with the matter said on Monday.

The European Commission opened a full investigation in February to consider competition implications of a deal that would remove one of GE's three rivals in the manufacturing of heavy-duty turbines for gas-fired power plants.

GE is seeking unconditional clearance for its proposed purchase of the French business, but the two sources said that the US conglomerate is unlikely to be given the green light unless it offers concessions or can muster up strong arguments.

The antitrust investigation was halted temporarily last month and GE said on Monday that it expects regulators to resume scrutiny of the deal this week and that the temporary suspension was part of the regulatory process. "This is a procedural step to give them time to review additional information, and we expect the clock to restart this week," the company said in a statement.

The investigation was halted on April 24, according to a filing on the European Commission website.

Commission spokesman Ricardo Cardoso said regulators were still waiting for some data from the companies. "The legal deadline in this case will be suspended until the parties respond in full to our information request, and then a new deadline will be set," he said. The previous deadline was Aug 6.

GE Chief Executive Jeff Immelt met European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager last week to present the merits of the company's case.