Tuesday, November 21, 2017
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Algeria to establish helicopter plant

An AgustaWestland AW139.The Algerian government says it will establish a helicopter production plant with a foreign partner primarily for the export market.

Addressing a recent meeting during a tour of Tizi-Ouzou, Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal said the plant will be co-funded by an unnamed foreign partner and two state-owned investment companies.

"The National Investment Council (NIC) and the Council of State holdings (CPE) have agreed to create a high-end helicopter manufacturing plant and much of these will be for the export market. We have to seek growth elsewhere in the real economic sphere where public and private companies are the keystone," Sellal said in a report published by the Algerian Press Service.

The plant will be completed with a foreign partner and a company under the Ministry of National Defense, said Sellal.

However, he did not give a timeline or name the foreign partner in the project, which will be 51% owned by the Algerian government with 49% of the shares going to the foreign partner.

According to a report published by North African defence news network Mena Defense on April 24, 2015, the setting up of the helicopter plant was part of the deal signed between the Algerian government and Italian defence equipment manufacturer Finmeccania Group for the delivery of several Augusta-Westland helicopters to Algerian security forces in 2011.

The deal was designed to allow the Finmeccanica Group subsidiary Augusta Westland to establish a factory that would serve the African and Middle Eastern military and civilian helicopter markets.

Last year, Italian police opened investigations into allegations that former Augusta-Westland managers created 'slush-funds' and faked invoices to help the company win deals to supply helicopters to the Algerian security forces between 2009 and 2011.

Over the past few years, the Algerian Air Force, Presidency, Gendarmerie, Marine, Police Service and civil protection units have acquired large numbers of AgustaWestland helicopters. The company has sold at least 78 helicopters to the North African country worth around $1.3 billion over the last five years.

This includes eight AW101s, 24 AW109s (ten for the Police and 14 for the Gendarmerie, eight AW119 Koalas for pilot training, 20 AW139s (six for the Civil Protection Department, 11 for the Air Force and three for the Navy) and ten Super Lynx for the Navy. Polish-based Swidnik has also supplied helicopters to Algeria, with eight W-3A Sokols being delivered in 2014.

PM Sellal said the helicopter plant is one of the many projects proposed for a new economic model adopted to drive the growth of state-owned enterprises by getting rid of socialist management systems in companies.

However he said the Algerian government would not abandon its 'social policies' as it moves to set up a digital economy by removing specific regulatory barriers which are considered as impediments to foreign investment.

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