Thales sets up new SA subsidiary

Thales, the French defence and aerospace giant, is registering a new South African subsidiary to be known as Thales South Africa (Pty) Ltd.
The Star newspaper reported over the long weekend that its previous local office, Thales International, also known as “Thint” ceased to exist on Thursday.
Thales International was a co-accused with President-elect Jacob Zuma in a corruption case linked to the 1999 Strategic Defence Package.
The paper adds charges of fraud, corruption and racketeering were formally withdrawn against Thint (Pty) Ltd and Thint Holding in the Durban High Court on April 7, the day the NPA dropped its case against Zuma.
“Eight days later, the warrant of arrest granted in February 2005 for Thales International`s former head, Alain Thetard, was cancelled by Judge Kate Pillay in the Durban High Court,” The Star adds.

Thales International attorney Ajay Sooklal says the “mist” hanging over his client’s head has cleared and the company can move on.

Thales International CE Pierre Moynot, who retired Thursday, told the paper the winding up of the business and the establishing of a new company “has nothing to do with trying to ‘launder` or rehabilitate a company whose image has been badly damaged.”
“We always wanted to do it,” he said.

When parent company Thomson-CSF was rebranded in December 2000 as Thales internationally, its South African subsidiaries, including African Defence Systems (ADS), were also supposed to reflect the name change, says Moynot.

He had resisted, however. “We were in court remember. We thought if we changed (our name) while in court, it might not be felt well.” Moynot said it was decided to leave the name as it was and to change it when all had been settled.
“We never had any doubt that it would be settled. Honestly. There was nothing real (in the charges).”

He adds that at the time there was another company called “Thales” in South Africa – Thales Advanced Engineering (TAE) – and thus it was decided to use the name “Thint”, a contraction of Thales International.

TAE has since rebranded itself as Protoclea and tha name “Thales” has fallen into disuse, allowing the French multinational to acquire the usage rights.
Thales currently has an 80% shareholding in ADS, with the rest owned by General Lambert Moloi’s Futuristic Business Solutions. Thales upped its shareholding in ADS when it paid R20 million for the 20% previously owned by Schabir Shaik’s Nkobi Group, The Star added. Moynot says the BEE (black economic empowerment stake in ADS is to be increased soon.

Christian Lamoureux, currently CE of ADS, is tipped to head Thales SA.