French defence major bets big on India, scouting for more partners

New Delhi, July 17: French defence major Thales is keen on increasing its over six-decade-old footprint in India and aims at roping the country in a much bigger way into its global supply chain.

Maintaining that Thales has "ambitious plans" involving India, which currently contributes less than 2.5 per cent to the company's 14 billion Euro annual turnover, a top executive said they are looking at more joint ventures besides the ones already in place with state-run BEL, Samtel and L&T.


"We have ambitious plans for the future...we believe that we can go much further. We see our activities in India not only as the right approach to get some business here but we also see our activities as a way to increase our footprint in other countries through export from India," Pascale Sourisse, Thales' Senior Executive Vice President (International Development) said.

She said the company's strategy in India is defined not only by a regional or domestic view but should be seen as involving the country in the group's global strategy. "We believe India will play a big role in the global strategy of Thales going forward.

Our assessment is we need to do much more. Currently what we have done is to actually work on our purchasing policy to identify more Indian companies that can be suppliers," Sourisse said.

Talking about the company's tie-ups with educational institutes like the IIT, Mumbai and Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, she said India has a lot of engineers and the firm believes the country needs to have a stronger policy in the field of innovation.

Talking about the joint ventures with BEL in radar technology, Samtel for avionics and L&T for software development, she said the aim is to use them more in the company's supply chain. She said they are also looking at involving other Indian companies and even the 300-strong Thales workforce in India in programmes in other countries.

"There is a lot to do but we are confident that with the right focus we can improve the share of India in our global supply chain very substantially," Sourisse said. Even though Thales, which is present in India since 1953, is slowly spreading its wings in the Indian civilian sector, like smart city projects and railways, besides the military segment, she said defence will continue to be the main focus.

She said defence sector contributes more than half of the 300 million Euro turnover the company has in India.

"Our strategy for India is to grow this number of 300.India should participate in projects for other customers. We expect India to be one of our large (contributor) countries in Thales organisation," she said. She also hoped that the much anticipated Rafale fighter jet deal will be inked soon.

Thales is a major partner in the project. She said the company hopes that India will continue to purchase additional aircraft. "This solution (Rafale) is very well suited for Indian needs," Sourisse said.


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