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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 November, 2003, 06:31 GMT
Alstom in the red as orders slide
Engineers fixing Alstom trains
French engineering group Alstom has posted a loss of 624m euros ($727m; 434m) for the six months to September following a bailout earlier this year.

Last year the firm, which was rescued from bankruptcy by a massive government loan, made an 11m euro profit.

The results were worse than analysts had predicted, and came as new orders fell almost a quarter to 7.44bn euros.

Much of the loss came from charges caused by accounting irregularities in one of the firm's US units.

The scandal surrounding the accounting problems was the main trigger for the firm's financial problems, along with cost over-runs on key projects and a weakening market for power equipment.

Buried under debts approaching 5bn euros, Alstom was only saved by a bailout from the government.

Even that caused trouble, with the original package being thrown out by the European Commission which said it amounted to illegal state aid.

A fresh set of loans and grants totalling 4.7bn euros was then agreed, but concerns remain about the company's long-term future.

The rest of this year, the firm said, was unlikely to show much of an improvement.

"We expect this current fiscal year to be unsatisfactory both in terms of results and cash flow due to tough market conditions and the impact of the past uncertainties concerning our situation on our commercial activity," Alstom said in a statement.

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