Arie Egozi/TEL AVIV

The new Israeli defence grouping formed by the Koor conglomerate is negotiating the purchase of a US defence electronics specialist, in line with its strategic aim of becoming a major manufacturer in the sector.

Avner Raz, president of Koor electronic-warfare subsidiary Elisra and head of the new group, confirms that talks with an unnamed US company are advanced. He says the business being targeted has annual sales of around $70 million. "Our aim is to sign an agreement that will give us control of the company," he says.

Koor's defence group was formed after negotiations between Elisra and Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) subsidiary Elta on the formation of a joint marketing venture collapsed because of union opposition. The group consists of Koor's Elisra, Tadiran Systems and Tadiran Spectralink and 30%-owned defence training and simulation specialist BVR. The latter has reported a 22% drop in turnover, to $36.8 million, for last year, with an operating loss of $7.3 million, compared with a $4.8 million profit in 1998.

BVR attributed the loss to a legal settlement with IAI, under which certain contracts for which BVR was to be prime contractor are now led by IAI's MLM division. BVR will claw back some of the loss through royalties to be paid by IAI as contracts are completed.

• Israel's Elbit Systems made a net profit of $31 million last year, up by 11.5 %, while sales totalled $436 million, compared with $414.7 million the previous year. The defence specialist's merger with Elop is to be completed "in the near future". It follows last year's purchase of helicopter maintenance and aircraft parts specialist Cyclone Aviation Products and International Enterprises of the USA. Elbit's order backlog reached a record $736 million at year-end.

Source: Flight International