The Paramount Group, South Africa’s largest privately owned defence industry company, has added new arrows to its quiver.
Paramount Group executive chairman Ivor Ichikowitz today said the final i’s were being dotted and t’s crossed prior to Advanced Technologies and Engineering (ATE) officially becoming part of the Paramount stable on Monday. This comes after defenceWeb informed its readers on April 22 that the takeover was going ahead this year.
Midrand-based ATE has been part and parcel of the local defence sector for more than 27 years before falling victim to harsh times and being placed under business rescue 22 months ago.
“Paramount Group’s acquisition of this strategic business will ensure its [ATE’s] continuation and add significant new and sophisticated aeronautical capabilities into Paramount’s existing product offering. The acquisition will also expand the group’s ability to deliver to its many government customers around the world,” Ichikowitz told a media briefing at ATE this morning.
The new company in the Paramount Group will be renamed Paramount Advanced Technologies (PAT) and the current 230 ATE employees will all remain on the payroll. So confident is the Paramount top man of success ahead that he sees employee numbers increasing.
“While we are not expecting miracles there is potential and I am confident there will be an uptake in the next 12 months.”
One ATE customer who will no doubt be breathing a sigh of relief is the SA Air Force. Via an agreement with BAE, ATE was committed to avionics and mission system updates for the Hawk Mk120 Lead-In Fighter Trainer. This will continue.
Ichikowitz explained that pursuing the business rescue plan for ATE rather than liquidation and then purchase meant existing contractual agreements remained in place.
“It was a painful process but will benefit all existing ATE customers as well as new ones.”
He sees the new addition to the Paramount Group as maintaining a highly specialised strategic capability in South Africa.
“The Paramount Group is committed to growing Africa’s high-tech competence and this transaction provides a further opportunity for us to do so.
“The people we need we need to salute are the employees, customers and suppliers who have been through an extremely difficult time but have demonstrated their commitment and loyalty by standing by the business and supporting this process.”
ATE’s expertise in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), sensors, missions system, avionics and system integration will now form part and parcel of Paramount’s suite of aerospace, land and maritime security and defence products. It will also see Paramount add to its civilian market expertise in border surveillance, coastal patrol, environmental protection and disaster and emergency services.
While he is comfortable heading up the country’s largest privately owned defence industry group, Ichikowitz sees partnerships and co-operation as being key to the future success of the local defence industry.
“We are at the stage now where the local defence industry has to work collaboratively under the banner of ‘SA Inc.’ if it is to make headway in cracking multi-billion dollar defence and security deals internationally.
“We are talking to Denel and other local defence industry players. Co-operation and workshare is what must happen. The contracts are big enough for all to share.
“At the same time the development of home-grown technology, skills and manufacturing capabilities are crucial if South Africa is to capitalise on the world’s appetite to do business in our region and the huge potential for intra-African and intra-BRICS trade.
“Paramount continues to lead by example demonstrating South African industry can match the best in the world,” he said.