* Full acquisition of Veecraft creating a shipbuilding business with an order book in excess of R1 billion.
* One-hundred percent acquisition of Aerosud’s military business.
* Launch of new Robotics division, with R100 million R&D investment.
* Manufacture of hi-tech helicopter blades in South Africa.
Paramount Group, Africa’s largest non-government-owned defence and aerospace manufacturer, today revealed significant expansion plans through acquisitions in its naval and aerospace businesses. This expansion is in line with Paramount Group’s vision of becoming an African-based global player in this highly competitive sector.
These acquisitions are aligned with other recent acquisitions to create a much larger, more diversified and more integrated organisation, moving Africa up the value chain and further leading defence and aerospace innovation with a focus on platforms and systems.
Ivor Ichikowitz, executive chairman of Paramount Group, says the growth and development of the group, as it celebrates its 20th anniversary, is coinciding with Africa’s rise and the continent’s presence in the global economy.
As the group has rapidly developed and diversified, each of the individual businesses are in the process of being streamlined and integrated to consolidate their unique innovative and manufacturing skills and create synergies between them. This will help build an indigenous defence group with multiple capabilities that will make a greater contribution to global security and stability, while transferring skills and creating new high-value jobs in Africa.
“We often hear about African solutions to Africa’s problems, but we as Africans have to actually build those solutions. That is what Paramount is doing in the defence industry. In view of the threats that are constantly emerging around the globe and the experience companies like Paramount have gained through working in Africa, we have the ability to develop our own security and intelligence capability, which has relevance not only in Africa but throughout the world.
Ichikowitz says: “It is imperative that Africa continues to develop skills and high value jobs; the defence and aerospace industry is an important sector and can become a very important viable job creator in the future.
“The investments we have made will contribute substantially to industrial development, and are creating by far the most diverse and cost-effective solutions across land, sea and air platforms. There are very few defence companies in the world that can offer this level of total defence solutions,” says Ichikowitz.
Acquisitions: Paramount Group buys Veecraft and Aerosud Military Division
In line with Paramount’s focus to re-establish a viable shipbuilding capability in South Africa, and following on its controlling interest in Nautic, Paramount Group has announced the acquisition of Veecraft, a major Cape-based shipbuilding company with an order book of R250 million. The combined Naval business will have an order book in excess of R1 billion and grow to a workforce of 350 employees.
Paramount is excited to announce it has also acquired 100% of Aerosud’s military business in a deal that significantly enhances Paramount’s overall aerospace capability. Aerosud Aerospace is a long established South African leader in the international aviation industry and has been working in partnership with Paramount on a number of projects. This company has advanced engineering upgrade, maintenance and logistics capability for highly sophisticated supersonic aircraft, and is one of very few companies in the world with this capability. In addition to this, it is the only company to operate a ‘Top Gun’ training facility in Africa capable of training pilots from ab initio through to supersonic fighter capability.
The acquisition of Aerosud Aerospace, to be renamed Paramount Aerospace, will complement Paramount’s recent acquisition of ATE, now renamed Paramount Advanced Technologies. It will allow the group to offer a complete offering of advanced aerospace systems design, development, manufacturing, maintenance, and training solutions for air forces around the world.
Robotics – the next frontier
Ichikowitz says: “The next generation of innovation in the global defence and security sector will be in the field of robotics. As warfare becomes more complex and the political risk associated with loss of life becomes more sensitive, both sophisticated and developing defence forces alike are investing in reducing the number of soldiers exposed to dangerous environments. In light of this, we are pleased to announce the establishment of Paramount Robotic Systems – a consolidation of Paramount’s mission systems, unmanned and robotics capabilities across land, sea and air. This division will consolidate Paramount’s robotics research and development activities as well as the organisation’s current unmanned programmes. “
The group will invest in excess of R100 million in research and development funding, bringing to market some of the most exciting innovations in the autonomous defence space.
Paramount Group’s Robotics division will be a first for Africa
“There is no defence company locally that has a robotics division like ours. We are now focused on developing unmanned robot systems that take the human element out of the equation. This is a first for Africa and the southern hemisphere, and we are very excited to be forging the way to making South Africa world leaders in the robotics industry,” says Ichikowitz.
Production of composite rotor blades for Mi-24 and Mi-17s in SA
Paramount Group announced it is to commence the production of composite main rotor and tail rotor blades at its state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Midrand. Paramount’s sophisticated technology is developing the composite blades for a range of helicopters, including the Mi-24 and Mi-17 helicopters. It is also the group’s intention to produce composite blades for other helicopters in the near future.
The design of helicopter rotor blades is an essential element in helicopter manufacturing to ensure reliability and long service life. Composite rotor blades outlast the life of the helicopter, whereas metal blades have to be replaced several times during the helicopter’s life span. Compared with metal blades which have to be replaced set-by-set, composite rotor blades can be replaced blade-by-blade and are more damage tolerant in operation. The blades can also be introduced without changing the helicopter’s rotor head, which is a world first.
“The investments and innovations that we are announcing today are a true testament to the skillset and entrepreneurial spirit of the continent. As we celebrate our 20th anniversary at the same time as South Africa celebrates its 20 years of democracy, we are proud to be recognised as global innovators with world-leading technologies and solutions. The development of the defence industry will go a long way towards creating an indigenous African capability that will deal with threats to the security of the continent,” concludes Ichikowitz.