\r\nOrders totalled \u20ac4.9bn during the first nine months, and \u20ac1.7bn in the third quarter, which was an increase from \u20ac1bn in the same period in 2016-2017. Among the highlight orders were the final 100 X\u2019Trapolis EMUs for Prasa in South Africa, which Alstom is delivering as part of the Gibela consortium, Pendolino trains and associated maintenance for NTV in Italy, and Coradia Polyvalent regional trains in France. Sales were fuelled by progress on the Riyadh metro project, deliveries of high-speed and regional trains in France, and maintenance contracts in Britain.\r\n\u201cSales growth over the first nine months was in line with our 2020 objectives,\u201d says Mr Henri Poupart-Lafarge, Alstom chairman and CEO, who added that progress is being made on the proposed merger with Siemens.\r\n\u201cThe signature of the Business Combination Agreement is expected in the coming period [first quarter] and the Alstom shareholders meeting for approval of the transaction should be held in July 2018,\u201d Popupart-Lafarge says.\r\nThe deal is still expected to close by the end of 2018 pending clearance from relevant regulatory authorities, including foreign investment clearance in France and anti-trust authorities. The French Capital Market authority (AMF) will also have to confirm that no mandatory takeover offer has to be launched by Siemens following completion of the contribution.\r\nSiemens has initiated the carve out process for its mobility business in order to prepare for the merger. Alstom says that that once all relevant antitrust approvals have been achieved and the transaction has closed, it will be able to analyse the combined businesses in much closer detail. It may then assess forward-looking statements as to certain financial or non-financial key indicators.