France Has Over €2bn On Hand to Fund Alstom Stake: Montebourg
French Economy minister Arnaud Montebourg at the 'New Industrial France' conference in Paris, in May, 2014.Reuters

The French government has amassed more than enough ready cash from share sales to fund its purchase of a 20% stake in troubled conglomerate Alstom, according to Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg.

"Following the sale of [shares in] Airbus, Safran and Aeroports de Paris, we now have over €2bn ($2.7bn, £1.6bn) that will be used to take that stake in Alstom," Montebourg told France's lower house during question time on 24 June, as reported by Reuters.

Shares in French utility giant EDF, Paris-based telecoms firm Orange, Safran and Airbus were the worst performers on the Paris stock exchange on 23 June, as traders feared the government would need to offload shares in those companies to fund the purchase.

Government ownership in Alstom was a condition set by Paris to back a deal with General Electric, which has been permitted to acquire Alstom's thermal power, renewable power and grid businesses for €12.35bn.

GE beat a combined offer by Germany's Siemens and Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

Earlier, German politician Peter Ramsauer slammed France's decision to choose US-based GE over Siemens as the preferred buyer of Alstom's energy assets, saying France had put national interests over European interests in approving the deal.

Ramsauer also criticised France's plans to buy a 20% stake in Alstom despite its heavy debts and budget deficit.

The French government agreed on 22 June to acquire a 20% stake in Alstom from shareholder Bouygues. The move will help France strengthen its grip on Alstom, which employs thousands of people in the country.

Paris has the option to buy the 20% stake at a discount from construction group Bouygues, which holds a 29.3% stake. Bouygues has said that the government's option to buy shares will last for 20 months and begin after the closing of the GE-Alstom deal.