Schneider Electric SA has teamed with Alstom SA to enter exclusive negotiations for the acquisition of French nuclear power company Areva's transmission and distribution operations, assuring that ownership of the business will remain in France. Schneider and Alstom, both based in the suburbs of Paris, beat out rival bids from General Electric and Toshiba. Schneider and Alstom reportedly offered 4.09 billion Euros, approximately $6.2 billion, for the unit. The French government, which owns 91 percent of Areva, expects to complete the transaction in 2010.

Areva T&D is the third-largest T&D operation in the world behind Siemens and ABB. In the proposed deal, Schneider would acquire the medium-voltage distribution side of the business, which accounts for about one third of the total, while Alstom would win the high-voltage transmission operations.

The deal would open up possibilities for “industrial, commercial and technological synergies which, up until now, have not been available to Areva T&D,” Areva said in a release. Schneider and Alstom plan to preserve and develop the links between transmission and distribution through cross-purchasing agreements, coordination of hardware and software standards and further development of joint research and development on the smart grid concept.