The story was much longer than expected.
And it was the outsider who finally won.
Alstom announced Wednesday that it will sell the Reichshoffen site, in the Bas-Rhin, to the Spanish CAF, confirming information from the daily
As Alstom specifies in a press release,
“the sale of the activities concerned was a condition for the approval of the Alstom-Bombardier transaction by the European Commission.
The takeover of the Canadian manufacturer of railway equipment was announced in February 2020. It made the new group the world's second largest player in the rail sector, behind China's CRRC
The European Commission has authorized the operation, against a few counterparties, including the sale of the Alsatian site.
In January 2021, the merger was completed for an amount of 5.3 billion euros.
At this point, the buyer of Reichshoffen seems to have already been found: it is Skoda Transportation, owned by Czech billionaire Petr Kellner (which has nothing to do with the car brand of the same name).
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The negotiations are in the home stretch.
Except that they will derail following a drama that is unexpected to say the least.
In March 2021, Petr Kellner died in a helicopter crash in Alaska.
The wavering at the head of the Czech group dragged out negotiations.
So much so that the European Commission is forced to extend the period it had granted to sell the site.
The Spanish CAF, for a while ousted, took the opportunity to get back into the race.
Determined, it is he who crosses the finish line as the winner.
The sale does not only relate to the Reichshoffen site and its 740 employees, but also to the order books and manufacturing platforms of the Regiolis and Talent 3 trains.
"Today there are around four years of activity"
, specifies an Alstom spokesperson.
The Regiolis are built on the Alsatian site.
The electric-hydrogen trains that use the Regiolis platform will be offered in consortium by CAF and Alstom, the latter retaining control of the hydrogen part.
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CAF will have intellectual property rights for the Talent 3 regional trains, which it will have manufactured wherever it wishes and not necessarily at the historic German site of Hennigsdorf.
"For Talent 3, only 25 German employees will be transferred to CAF and this will be done on a voluntary basis"
, specifies the spokesperson.
The sale should take place between April and September, once employee representatives have been consulted and the approval of the European Commission has been obtained.
News that reassures employees
Daniel Dreger, spokesperson for the intersyndicale CGT / CFE-CGC / FO de Reichshoffen
This approval should not be a problem. CAF is a strong competitor. In 2019, the Spanish achieved nearly 2.8 billion euros in turnover. It is even gaining market share in France, as shown by the obtaining, in 2019, of two contracts for regional trains on the Paris-Toulouse and Paris-Clermont-Ferrand lines. This represents a total of 28 trains and 75 optional. They will be manufactured in the factory that the Spanish group owns in Bagnères-de-Bigorre, in the Hautes-Pyrénées.
The acquisition of Reichshoffen will allow CAF to almost triple its industrial footprint in France.
A presence and an ambition appreciated by Alstom employees.
Daniel Dreger, spokesperson for the intersyndicale CGT / CFE-CGC / FO in Reichshoffen, spoke of
"news that reassures employees"