Renault Trucks Defense Held High-Level Merger Talks with Nexter
PARIS — Renault Trucks Defense entered into merger talks with Nexter, with the discussions going up to ministerial level in France, said Stefano Chmielewski, president of Volvo group government sales, on June 12.
“We had very interesting talks, even at the ministry level,” Chmielewski told journalists at the Eurosatory show.
“The discussions were also, let’s say, held in the Cabinet of the minister. So it was very interesting for us to go deeper,” Chmielewski said.
The private-sector RTD is a subsidiary of Volvo, the Swedish commercial trucks group. Nexter is a French state-owned land weapons company.
Nexter declined to comment on the talks.
Nexter’s state-owned status is seen as an obstacle to a deal with RTD.
“The problem is always dealing with an entity that is state-owned and a private-owned entity,” Chmielewski said. “From time to time, the goals and the objectives are seen under a different perspective.”
The difference in corporate culture of Nexter and RTD was seen as too great a hurdle, an industry executive said.
Volvo, as parent company, would have to approve any deal negotiated by its RTD unit.
The RTD-Nexter merger talks opened in November around the time the two companies announced a teaming deal to work on a planned troop carrier, the véhicule blindé multi-role (VBMR), under the French army’s Scorpion modernization program.
How the French government handles the VBMR procurement will play an important part in Volvo’s decision on Nexter.
“At the end of the story, we had decided if there is a closed or selected tender for the replacement of the (vehicule avant blindé), we will join forces with Nexter,” Chmielewski said of the VAB. “Different story might be if the armament authorities hold a tender throughout Europe or around the world. We might stay with Nexter, we might not. But we’re very good friends. We’re a supplier, we cooperate, we do many things.”
RTD and Nexter are partners on the véhicle blindé de combat d’infanterie infantry fighting vehicle and the VAB troop carrier.
RTD, meanwhile, is in advanced negotiations to acquire Panhard General Defense, a French privately owned specialty maker of light armored vehicles.
“I do confirm,” Chmielewski said, when pressed to comment on the talks with Panhard.