VIDEO. “Sensitive affairs”. When the Alstom scandal broke, April 23, 2014

On April 23, 2014, Patrick Kron was in Chicago. The CEO of Alstom is in the process of settling, with Jeffrey Immelt, the boss of General Electric, the final details of a controversial sale. A project of which Bercy was not informed … The government of Manuel Valls ignores all the secret contacts that have been taking place for several months at the initiative of the CEO, with a view to a sale to its American rival of the energy branch Alstom – which represents two-thirds of the group and a strategic activity, since it concerns the manufacture of turbines which equip power and nuclear power plants.

A national flagship, sold to the Americans… but what fly has stung Patrick Kron? This is because Alstom is in difficulty following the economic crisis of the 2010s, and ill-equipped for the transition to renewable energies. Hence the project of the CEO of the company that builds the TGV: abandon the energy branch to focus on transport. Patrick Kron assures us that his silence served to protect Alstom from possible leaks …

But the “leak” ends up happening … and the Alstom affair breaks out. Mixing politics and economic interests, it will see two men clash: Patrick Kron and Arnaud Montebourg, then Minister of the Economy, Productive Recovery and Digital (during his interview for “Sensitive Affairs”, he did not have announced his candidacy for the presidential election of 2022). Journalists have collected their two versions …

A scoop from the Bloomberg agency that has the effect of a bomb

This same April 23, 2014, the banners of American news channels display this scoop from the Bloomberg agency: General Electric is about to buy Alstom for around 13 billion dollars. On the other side of the Atlantic, the dispatch arrives on Arnaud Montebourg’s cellphone around 6 am. The minister’s blood only turns …

First of all “incredulous“, he says in this excerpt, he joined his chief of staff to organize the reception of Patrick Kron as soon as he landed at Le Bourget: “You send me the bikers from the gendarmerie who usually escort me, you go look for him, you bring him back to me by the skin of the back, and we will explain ourselves.” What denies the person concerned, who assures to have gone by himself to Bercy … after having discovered on his phone “12 messages from Mr. Montebourg and his cabinet“.

Arnaud Montebourg relates an icy interview, offering “the condemned man’s coffee“to the one whose”duplicity was brilliantAccording to his story, the CEO of Alstom told him “If you don’t follow me, I’m making a social plan for 5,000 people”, to which he would have replied that “the government is insensitive to any form of threat.” For his part, Patrick Kron admits having planned “a plan that would have resulted in many job cuts – not as a threat, but as an industrial reality”.

A few days later, live from the National Assembly, Arnaud Montebourg delivers one of the rants of which he has the secret. “Mr. Patrick Kron, while I questioned him duly, solemnly and seriously, always told me that he had no plans for an alliance. Should the Minister of the Economy go and install a lie detector in his office, for the presidents of the CAC 40 who do not have the elementary civility to warn their government? “ he thunders in the Hemicycle. The Alstom affair has not finished causing a stir …

Extract from “Alstom Affair: the Secret War”, an investigation by Sylvain Pak and Gaël Hubert to see on October 21, 2021 in “Sensitive Affairs”, magazine presented by Fabrice Drouelle and co-produced by France Télévisions, France Inter and INA d ‘ after the original broadcast of France Inter.

> Replays of France Télévisions news magazines are available on the Franceinfo website and its mobile application (iOS & Android), “Magazines” section.

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