The success of BAE Systems, the newly merged British Aerospace and Marconi Electronic Systems, will depend partly on Government support, in the form of aid for the Airbus A3XX launch and Ministry of Defence orders, the company said this week.
Talks on launch aid for the proposed A3XX super jumbo airliner, which will incorporate BAE Systems’ wings, are under way between the company and the Department of Trade and Industry.
BAE Systems chairman Sir Richard Evans said the repayable aid, about one third of BAE Systems’ £2bn costs, was crucial.
The new company has 111,000 employees worldwide, of which 70,000 are in the UK, and a turnover of £12.3bn, of which 80% is exported. BAE Systems is now the second largest defence company in the world after US-based Lockheed Martin.
Its defence sales are more than double those of European Aeronautic and Defence Systems, which was created by the merger of France’s Aerospatiale Matra and Germany’s Dasa. `Being big is important in this business,’ said John Weston, BAE Systems’ chief executive.
Any decision on job losses following the merger will not be made until the second quarter of next year, Evans said. But he predicted few redundancies.
Finding a new name for the firm prompted much debate, Weston said. A list of 2,500 possible names was reduced to four before BAE Systems was chosen. `We’re no longer just British and we’re no longer just in aerospace,’ he explained.
The new company hopes to focus on three core areas – defence, civil aerospace and customer support – with particular emphasis on the latter.
Meanwhile, the future of the Airbus A400M military transport plane, for which BAE Systems would supply wings, remains uncertain. Partner countries including the UK are yet to commit to buying the aircraft. A decision from the MoD is expected early next year.