General Electric inched closer to buying the energy-related businesses of France's Alstom by making a $16.9 billion bid, but rival offers and political concern in France may hold up or scuttle the deal.

GE's bid, announced on Wednesday, has been endorsed by Alstom's board, but the board will wait up to a month to formally accept or reject it.

GE would obtain the parts of Alstom that make and service electric power generation and transmission equipment. Alstom would keep its transportation division, which makes high-speed trains.

GE values the deal at $13.5 billion because it will acquire $3.4 billion of Alstom's cash if the deal closes.

But the deal is far from done. France's government, which regularly intervenes in corporate decision making, has questioned whether selling Alstom to Connecticut-based GE threatens the country's energy independence and jobs. Alstom has formed a committee of independent board members to examine GE's proposal.

Officials in France had pressed for more time to allow GE's German rival Siemens time to form its own bid. Siemens said in a statement yesterday that it would make an offer if Alstom allowed it access to company data and allowed it to perform due diligence.

Alstom's board said it unanimously recognised the GE deal's strategic and industrial merits, and Alstom called the deal "practically perfect."