Ian Goold/LONDON

British Aerospace has established a joint venture designed to position the group to develop new aerospace and aviation opportunities in China and to strengthen links with the country's developing industry.

The move follows last year's similar effort to develop relationships with Malaysia, initially through regional aircraft work, although that project is now on hold as the Asia Pacific region battles with economic downturn.

The latest venture, to be called EuroMandarin, is being set up with First Mandarin, a Hong Kong trading and project management company established in 1979. The new unit will look for opportunities to become involved in aerospace projects and businesses, ranging from aircraft sales and simulation through to property management.

"BAe must seize the marketing initiative in every region," says Allan MacDonald, managing director of BAe's Asia business, who will chair the venture. "It has a serious commitment to make a life in countries that have a serious aerospace plan."

Managing director of the venture is First Mandarin's Steven Young. Another key participant is Martin Craigs, a former president of Saab Aircraft International and now charged by BAe with helping EuroMandarin to identify new civil aviation market opportunities in China. The joint venture was formally established in March, but is understood to have been under consideration for years.

The move seems to follow the philosophy that led to the Malaysian deal. The aim was to start with civil aerostructures work, but leading on to the possibility of the Kazanah state investment group taking a stake in BAe's Avro regional jet unit. BAe also acknowledged that the relationship could help support future military competitions. MacDonald confirmed earlier this year that the Malaysian deal may not now be sealed in 1998 due to the economic crisis.

Source: Flight International