GE TELLS EUROPEAN UNION TO TAKE OR LEAVE ITS MERGER PROPOSAL

BRUSSELS, Belgium

European Union (EU) regulators suggested more bargaining Friday with General Electric Co. on its proposed $41 billion merger with Honeywell Int’l, but GE insisted the EU must take or leave the last offer.

European Union Commission spokeswoman Amelia Torres says both firms still have “limited opportunity to submit modified proposals.” GE’s response was immediate. “We will not make another proposal,” says company spokesman Gary Sheffer. “Negotiations are over.”

GE chairman and CEO Jack Welch, who had led negotiations in the final days in Brussels, says he considers approval unlikely. Honeywell says it is ready with plans to move ahead on its own, but there has been immediate speculation that it may renew merger discussions with United Technologies Corp., which had been a suitor until GE moved in.

The EU will now pass along details of the GE offer to competitors and national antitrust authorities for comment, assess the responses, and make a final recommendation to the European Commission, which will issue a decision by July 12.

In Warsaw, Poland, President Bush says he is concerned that the Europeans have rejected the merger. In Paris, U.S. Commerce Secretary Don Evans urged the EU Commission to approve the deal.

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