4 Mar 2011 By PIERRE TRAN DefenseNews
PARIS - Nexter is in preliminary talks with Thales as a possible alliance partner in a restructuring of the French land systems sector, Nexter Executive Chairman Philippe Burtin said March 4.
The discussions with Thales were part of "preliminary, non-binding and non-exclusive" talks, which included other companies in France and Europe, aimed at industry consolidation, Burtin told analysts and journalists as he unveiled Nexter's 2010 results.
State-owned Nexter pursued a "strategy of sector" in its talks, Burtin said. In the land sector, Thales has the TDA munitions and mortar business, and its Australian unit builds the Bushmaster armored vehicle, he said.
The discussions over a potential partnership were also at the program level, namely the Véhicule Blindé Multi-Role multirole troop carrier, which Nexter hopes to win in an international tender expected to be launched toward the end of this year, Burtin said.
Thales Executive Chairman Luc Vigneron said Feb. 14 the electronics company "could not remain indifferent to changes in the land defense sector."
Nexter posted 2010 net profit of 164 million euros ($227.8 million), up 16 percent from 141 million euros a year ago, on a 21 percent increase in sales to 1.1 billion from 887 million euros. New orders totaled 601 million euros, lifted by a Saudi Arabian order for 155mm shells for the Caesar artillery system and a French multiyear purchase of medium-caliber munitions. That compared with 2009 orders worth 1.29 billion euros.
Operating profit rose 26 percent to 185 million euros, from 147 million euros. The outlook for 2011 was for a decline in sales to about 800 million to 850 million euros, while new orders were expected to be stable, Burtin said.
The order book totaled 2 billion euros, or 2½ years work, down from 2.5 billion euros.