A joint defence electronics venture is to be formed between Thomson-CSF and South Korea's Samsung Industries. This will extend the French company's reach into Asia and consolidate Samsung's leadership in the area. French landing gear specialist Messier Dowty is also moving into Asia with a joint venture in Singapore.

Under the terms of the agreement, Thomson-CSF will buy 50% of Samsung Electronics' defence business. The company will be registered in South Korea, providing optronics, military communications, naval combat systems and air defence systems to markets in South and North-East Asia. Samsung's defence business is forecast to generate sales of around $141.6 million this year, growing to $165 million next. The company employs 600.

Samsung will appoint the chief executive of the new company, while Thomson-CSF will choose the deputy chief executive and chief financial officer. The joint venture agreement is expected to be concluded by January.

The deal is part of a wider reorganisation of Samsung activities which has seen it merge its aerospace business with those of Daewoo Heavy Industries and Hyundai Space & Aircraft to form Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI). French industry is also bidding to acquire a holding in KAI which is to be made available to foreign investors next year.

At the same time as Thomson-CSF expands in Korea, Snecma subsidiary Messier Dowty is setting up its first manufacturing base in Asia following the signing of a deal with Singapore Aerospace Manufacturing to create a joint venture, producing small and medium-sized landing gear.

The company, based at Paya Lebar in Singapore, starts operations in January. Turnover next year is expected to reach $12 million and the company, which does not yet have a name, is projecting annual compound growth of 25% through to 2004 as its capabilities grow.

Singapore Aerospace will transfer its present landing gear business, which consists mainly of actuator work, to the company.

The move will see the new company start by providing landing gear for the Raytheon 800XP, the Gulfstream V and Ayres Loadmaster 200. It will also soon start work on Canadair Regional Jets and Challenger business jet nose landing gear and Airbus A320 main fittings. The site will primarily take over work previously done by subcontractors in North America and provide the company with a low cost manufacturing site.

The French landing gear company already has a maintenance and repair shop in Singapore.

Source: Flight International