Bush intervenes in row over GE-Honeywell deal

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The Independent Online

President Bush weighed into the row over the European Commission's refusal to approve General Electric's $42bn (£30bn) takeover of Honeywell yesterday, saying that he was "concerned" about the development.

His intervention raised the political stakes dramatically and increased the possibility of retaliation from the US if the deal does founder on what GE's chairman Jack Welch described as the EC's "extraordinary demands". On the penultimate stop of his five-country European tour, President Bush told a Warsaw news conference: "I am concerned that the Europeans have rejected it."

His comments were echoed by another senior member of the Bush administration, the Commerce Secretary Don Evans, who urged the Commission to consider the positive aspects of the deal. "I want to encourage them [the EU] to continue to think seriously about how constructive a merger like this could be," he said. Mr Evans refused to be drawn on what the repercussions might be if the deal were blocked.

GE , which had offered $2.2bn of disposals, said the deal remained on the table. However, it is thought inconceivable that Mr Welch will give in to Brussels' demands for $4bn of disposals or the sale of its aircraft leasing business Gecas.

A Commission spokeswoman said the companies had "a limited opportunity to submit modified proposals" up until 12 July.

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