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15 Nov 11. Lockheed Martin is in discussions with French armoured vehicle manufacturers Nexter and Panhard as the companies look for ways to work together. “We are exploring opportunities for collaboration,” Morri Leland, Lockheed’s Deputy Director for international Business Development in its Missiles & Fire Control unit told the Dubai Airshow, according to Defense News. Is this another sign that the armoured vehicle market is set for a wave of consolidation? Last week General Dynamics announced that will acquire Force Protection Inc. (NASDAQ: FRPT) for around $360mi. The Summerville, South Carolina firm flourished throughout the Bush era but with the outlook for armour and survivability products bleak, it’s little wonder the mid-market leader has been swallowed up into General Dynamic’s machinations. “Force Protection complements and strategically expands General Dynamics’ armoured vehicle business, adding new products to the expansive portfolio of combat vehicles that we currently manufacture and support,” said Mark C. Roualet, President of General Dynamics Land Systems. “In addition, Force Protection’s skilled workforce provides high-quality support and sustainment services to an installed fleet of approximately 3,000 vehicles, strengthening our ability to support assets deployed with U.S. forces around the world. With this acquisition, we will create new opportunities to serve domestic and international customers alike.” Michael Moody, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Force Protection, Inc., commented, “After careful consideration of the strategic direction of Force Protection, our board decided that a sale to General Dynamics would maximize value for our stockholders. With their armoured vehicle business, General Dynamics will be able to pursue opportunities that we could not have pursued as a stand-alone company. As part of the General Dynamics family, our innovative products and offerings will continue to provide militaries worldwide critical assets that save troops’ lives.” The U.S. Department of Defense indicated earlier this year that it will look unfavourably on top tier consolidation in the defence industry as it looks for the market to be more competitive than ever with acquisition budgets strained. With Lockheed Martin having recently won the contract for the £1bn Warrior upgrade, as well as for the turret on the new Scout SV vehicle for the FRES programme, the firm is well placed to acquire and integrate new capabilities. The French defence market is in flux as Safran and Thales continue to sporadically thrash out merger discussions and as the government looks set to implement severe budget cuts to reduce the country’s deficit. What starts out as a working collaboration between Lockheed and the French vehicle makers could soon turn into another mid-market acquisition. (Source:IQPC)
———————————————————————–Millbrook, based in Bedfordshire, UK, makes a significant contribution to the quality and performance of military vehicles worldwide. Its specialist expertise is focussed in two distinct areas: test programmes to help armed services and their suppliers ensure that their vehicles and systems work as the specification requires; and design and build work to upgrade new or existing vehicles, evaluate vehicle capability and investigate in-service failures. Complementing these is driver and service training and a hospitality business that allows customers to use selected areas of Millbrook’s remarkable facilities for demonstrations and exhibitions.