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GE to defend Alstom power unit buy at EU hearing

The logo of U.S. conglomerate General Electric is pictured at the company's site in Belfort, April 27, 2014. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - General Electric (GE.N) will seek to convince doubtful EU antitrust regulators of the merits of its 12.4 billion euro (US$13.9 billion) bid for Alstom's (ALSO.PA) power unit at a hearing, the U.S. conglomerate said on Saturday.

The move came after the European Commission warned the company earlier this month that the deal, its biggest ever and a key element of its expansion into industrial products and away from finance, would harm competition.

Senior officials from the EU competition authority, their counterparts from EU agencies and rivals are expected to attend the closed-door hearing.

"We have requested an oral hearing," GE spokesman Jim Healy said. He said the hearing would be on July 2.

French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron has said the deal should be viewed in a global perspective and take into account Chinese rivals following the EU regulator's decision to exclude the Chinese market from its scrutiny of GE's market power.

The Commission is concerned the takeover would leave just two gas turbine companies in Europe, with GE competing only with Germany's Siemens (SIEGn.DE).

GE is seeking to avoid a repetition of one of its biggest setbacks, when the EU enforcer vetoed its planned $42 billion takeover of Honeywell International (HON.N) in 2001 despite the green light from U.S. authorities.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Toni Reinhold)