Siemens chief Joe Kaeser played a waiting game on Wednesday over his company's intentions towards French group Alstom, which is also coveted by US giant General Electric. Asked at Siemens' annual earnings news conference about the current battle with GE for Alstom's prized energy business, Kaeser said: "We appreciate the assets, but we will be very clear about what we want and we will act when we know what we want." Siemens would "look at it", undertake the necessary due diligence, evaluate the perceived risks and opportunities "and then we make a decision on how we go forward," Kaeser said. Kaeser, in the post for the past nine months, is seeking to turn the sprawling German industrial conglomerate around. Late on Tuesday, the group announced it was acquiring the gas turbine and compressor business of Rolls-Royce for £785 million (950 million euros) in a bid to beef up its position in the growing oil and gas industry. Siemens has also become involved in a fierce battle with GE for Alstom's power generation and transmission operations, which account for about 70 percent of the overall business of the French "national jewel". The French government, which views Alstom as a firm of national strategic importance and is concerned about safeguarding jobs as it battles record unemployment and declining industrial competitiveness, has also waded into the bidding war. Alstom is one of the country's biggest private sector employers with about 18,000 staff nationwide. - Kaeser talks to Merkel - Kaeser has discussed the issue with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said a government spokeswoman, who added that the phone call was at Kaeser's request but did not reveal when or for how long they spoke. The issue is likely to feature when Merkel meets French President Francois Hollande on Friday and Saturday in her electoral district on the Baltic coast. The meeting would focus on "current topics" and the Alstom question is "a topic being discussed", the spokeswoman said. Berlin believes that an alliance would open "possibilities in terms of industrial policy," said a spokesman of the economy ministry, but he stressed that it was foremost a business decision. Alstom is in favour of GE's 12.4-billion-euro ($17-billion) bid. Siemens, for its part, values Alstom's energy business at 10.5 billion to 11 billion euros, and has offered to hand over part of its trains business to the French company in the deal. "We appreciate the assistance of the French government," Kaeser said, saying Paris was being "very mindful, very long-term orientated." - Mixed Q2 results - Turning to Siemens' latest results, the group said at the press conference it is targeting an increase of at least 15 percent in earnings per share this year even though the strong euro is hurting sales. Siemens, which runs its business year from October to September, said that its performance in the second quarter was "mixed." "Profit in the second quarter was considerably higher than in the comparable prior-year period. A strong euro took four percentage points from order development and revenue growth," Siemens complained. In the period from January to March, Siemens' net profit rose by 12 percent to 1.153 billion euros. Underlying or operating profit was up 19 percent at 1.163 billion euros. Revenues, on the other hand, fell by 2.0 percent to 17.449 billion euros and orders were down 13 percent at 18.43 billion euros. "The second quarter showed that we still have a lot to do to improve our operating performance. Nevertheless we are on course to reach our targets for the fiscal year," said Kaeser. Siemens said it expected its markets "to remain challenging in fiscal 2014." The company's short-cycle businesses "are not anticipating a sustainable recovery until late in the fiscal year," it said. "Assuming that revenue on an organic basis remains level year-over-year, Siemens expects basic earnings per share for fiscal 2014 to grow by at least 15 percent from 5.08 euros per share in fiscal 2013," it said.