Chris Jasper/LONDON

Thomson-CSF has adopted a new name, Thales, in a move it says reflects its increasingly international identity. The change spells the end for several well-known industry names, including avionics specialist Sextant and Racal of the UK, both of which have been given new identities.


Thales, which takes its name from a Ancient Greek philosopher, is also planning to list on the London stock exchange, in addition to Paris. The listing, set for 18 December, is again a reflection of the defence and civil electronics group's changing nature. Around 75% of the company's sales and half of its staff are outside France - 25% of employees being UK-based after the recent takeover of Racal, now Thales Plc.

Chairman Denis Ranque says the name change stems not only from Thomson's international profile, but also a diversification into non-defence activities, which now account for 50% of revenues. The decision was taken against the background of a profits boom and the adoption of a "multi-domestic" management structure, Ranque adds - while 600 other companies shared the Thomson name.

He says Thales is still pursuing a tie-up with Raytheon of the USA, based initially on a ground-based air defence venture. The company is also teaming with EDS of the USA UK-based Hunting Engineering, BAE Systems North America's Hazeltine subsidiary and BBN to bid for the UK's £1.7 billion ($2.4 billion) Bowman military communications programme, and expects to be invited to negotiate on the UK's Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft - for which it is part of the Eurotanker consortium - "in the next few weeks".

Thales has also made a mandatory cash offer for remaining shares in UK-based electro-optical systems specialist Avimo (listed in Singapore). It acquired a 25% stake in the business from Alvis in September, and is taking another 17%. Ranque is lukewarm about further European integration in the arenas of radars and avionics. Thomson-CSF Sextant - formerly Sextant Avionique - will now be known as Thales Avionics.

Source: Flight International