Alan George/PARIS

Thomson-CSF claims it is following "a different logic" from the rest of the defence and aerospace sector, arguing that the basic restructuring of Europe's industry is over, but that its own focus on defence electronics means it expects strong growth even without further mergers.

The French giant's senior vice- president for strategy and development, Jean-Loup Picard, says the age of the European mega-merger is over, with scope for further consolidation limited to avionics and airborne radars. But he says that, while global defence demand is weak, the defence electronics sector is "buoyant" - accounting for an increasing proportion of value and boosted by outsourcing by primes.

"Our position in the electronics sector is linked to a different logic from that governing the aerospace and defence sectors as a whole," says Picard. "Our logic involves growth in the value chain. Electronics account for an ever-growing proportion of the cost of defence and aerospace equipment, and it is an area in which our customers increasingly are trying to reduce their roles. They don't have the technical capabilities and don't want to bear the financial risk."

Picard adds that, with sectoral growth in double digits, the challenge is not to restructure, but to deliver effective solutions. Its res-ponse has been to adopt a "multi-domestic" strategy securing "local player status" in several markets.

Collaboration is still on the agenda, including a possible European avionics house involving Thomson-CSF Sextant, EADS, Alenia and perhaps Smiths Industries, though this is "an open question". Picard says a radars deal would be accretive, with no chance of the Detexis unit being sold. He says Alenia is a potential partner.

Source: Flight International