When foreigners are buying, France gets more sway

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

PARIS (AP) — The French government is broadening its authority to intervene when foreign companies want to buy firms the state considers vital, including in the sectors of transport, health and communications.

The order released Thursday goes into effect immediately, potentially giving the Socialist government more leverage amid General Electric's $17 billion for the power systems division of the French conglomerate Alstom, which makes power plant turbines and pioneered high speed TGV trains. Alstom got a government bailout in 2005.

The government last year blocked the sale of the video-sharing service Daily Motion to Yahoo and is pressuring GE for a better offer.

In a statement, Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg said the government's ability to veto foreign investment would be "applied in a selective and proportional manner, taking each situation into consideration."