The Latest on the planned train-making merger between Siemens and Alstom (all times local):

1:25 p.m.

Siemens and Alstom say they aim to save 470 million euros ($554 million) a year by joining forces in a European train-making giant — and they're playing down that that means job cuts.

The French government is fending off heated criticism from across the political spectrum over the ambitious deal, seen as selling out a French industrial champion to German rivals. The French government owns 20 percent of Alstom and intervened repeatedly in the past to protect the struggling maker of high-speed TGVs and its jobs.

Alstom CEO Henri Poupart-Lafarge, who will run the merged company, told reporters Wednesday that the deal would ultimately create jobs and innovation.

Siemens President Joe Kaeser insisted it would be a "merger of equals" and said "a global business needs a global view" instead of a nation-focused mindset.

They said the company is aiming at 470 million euros in annual savings within four years.


9:10 a.m.

France's finance minister is defending a deal to merge French high-speed train maker Alstom with Germany's Siemens as crucial to keeping European industry globally competitive.

Finance and Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire told reporters Wednesday that the deal is especially important given growing competition from Chinese train makers to meet worldwide demand for the kind of high-speed trains once exemplified by Alstom's TGVs.

President Emmanuel Macron's government is under fire over the Alstom deal because the French state owns 20 percent of Alstom and has repeatedly intervened to save its jobs.

Critics accuse the government of letting Germany buy out a French industrial champion.