Mike Martin

The Europeans will be able to learn from the mistakes made by major US companies over mergers, but it will still be a difficult process, said Sextant chairman and chief executive Francois Lureau at the show yesterday.

And he believes that the major part of the consolidation of the industry in Europe is now complete. "There will be other moves but I think it will stabilise now," he said yesterday.

"I welcome the formation of EADS (European Aeronautic Defense and Space company) as a good thing. Europe needed to consolidate and, if possible, to do it better than the Americans.

"When you look at our friends in America, they have had massive problems. It is complex to carry out such mergers and perhaps there are lessons to be learned."

Lureau says that he does not strongly share the growing view in many areas of the European business that it is virtually impossible to break into US programmes because of a "fortress America" mentality.

"I think it is true of military programmes in any country. The United States is bigger but not really different. As a company you have to be as domestic as possible. The civil market in the United States is just part of a global market but military programmes are a problem."

In Asia-Pacific, Sextant and parent company Thomson-CSF continue to grow their presence via their "multi-domestic" policy. "Under this policy, we essentially act as a domestic player in all situations," he says. "There might be a French manager, but if we are in Australia we are Australian and so on."

The company has a strong presence in Korea, Australia and in Singapore where Thomson-CSF (Sextant) Asia has grown from 45 to 60 staff in the last two years.

That's despite the economic problems of 1997/98, says Lureau. "We never lost faith in the region. We could have closed down but we didn't; rather, we increased our people. I think we were right because the economies are recovering. I am on record as saying in 1997 that the recession would not last long.

"We are not at the levels of 1997 yet but we will get there."

Lureau says that the Sextant exhibit, part of the Thomson-CSF presence (Stand A519), is majoring on its Topsight helmet-mounted sight/display for Dassault's Rafale multirole fighter and the flight management system for the Airbus Industrie family of aircraft.

* Sextant yesterday announced that it has been chosen by LG Precision and Samsung Aerospace to supply 3 and 4 ATI flat-panel instruments, as well as data concentrator and control panel for Korea's new KT1 basic trainer.

Source: Flight Daily News