November 16, 2018 / 12:47 PM / 23 days ago

Siemens, Alstom not seeking hearing to win EU nod for rail merger

ZURICH, Nov 16 (Reuters) - Siemens and Alstom said on Friday they will not seek a hearing in front of European Union regulators to address antitrust concerns about their planned rail merger.

The companies have the right to a formal hearing but said in a joint statement that they had submitted written answers in response to queries from the European Commission about the merger.

They said they were now focusing on "ongoing constructive discussions" to address concerns raised by the Commission.

Germany's Siemens and France's Alstom, the maker of the TGV high speed train, agreed last year to merge their rail operations, creating a company with 15 billion euros ($17 billion) in revenue and a workforce of 62,000.

They aim to create a European champion to challenge the advance of China's state-owned CRRC, although the deal faces regulatory scrutiny. Rivals say the power of the combined company could shut them out of the European market.

Alstom this week voiced confidence it would finalise a merger by the middle of next year. Siemens Chief Executive Joe Kaeser said last week he was relaxed about getting approval.

Regulators in China have already given a green light to the deal, although Australia is still examining whether the mega merger could lead to higher prices by lowering competition for heavy rail signalling projects.

The two companies may agree to sell some assets to win approval.

"The decision to request the organisation of an oral hearing is purely up to the parties, and is by no means an obligation," Siemens and Alstom said in a joint statement. "Following the Statement of Objections, Siemens and Alstom have submitted an exhaustive written response to the Commission and consider that a hearing would be unnecessary." ($1 = 0.8826 euros) (Reporting by John Revill; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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