April 26, 2018 / 1:29 PM / 5 months ago

AIRSHOW-Missile maker MBDA plans tie-ups not takeovers in U.S. push

BERLIN, April 26 (Reuters) - European missile maker MBDA prefers to form cooperation agreements with U.S. companies instead of using takeovers to gain access to the large U.S. arms market, Chief Executive Antoine Bouvier told Reuters in an interview.

MDBA is jointly owned by Airbus Group, Britain's BAE Systems and Italy's Leonardo.

"It is not in our plan to take over U.S. companies. There is a very tight regulation and our view is that to partner with large U.S. companies is the preferred option, Bouvier said in an interview on the sidelines of the ILA Berlin Air Show.

He said MBDA would pursue cooperation deals inside and outside the United States, but did not name potential partners.

MDBA has faced stiff challenges in selling its Brimstone missiles and other equipment in the U.S. market, which constitutes about 40 percent of the world missile market, excluding Russia and China, he said.

Bouvier noted that MBDA was already working closely with top U.S. arms maker Lockheed Martin Corp in Germany, where the two companies have formed a joint venture to hammer out an agreement with the defence ministry about a multibillion-euro missile defence system called TLVS.

The head of Lockheed's missiles and fire control business on Wednesday said the two companies hoped to finalise a contract for TLVS by the end of 2018.

Bouvier said that cooperation could expand outside Germany in the future, given what he called the "huge potential for export" of the TLVS system.

"When the German customer confirms TLVS then we will have a number of opportunities outside Germany with Lockheed Martin," he said, citing current Patriot operators outside Europe as possible buyers. (Reporting by Andrea Shalal Editing by Keith Weir)

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