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Thursday, June 08, 2006

Thales eyes Saudi market

RIYADH(Gulf Daily News): French defence electronics group Thales wants to tap Saudi Arabia's potentially large oil, gas and transportation security market, a top company executive said.

Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter, has boosted security against Al Qaeda-linked militants waging a three-year violent campaign against the government.

"We are already well-established and strong on defence and aerospace. What we need to develop more is our civilian activities, mainly those linked to security," Reynald Seznec, Thales vice-president for operations, said in an interview.

"We have identified some market segments - oil and gas is one and there is also air transport and transport in general," he said.

"If we were to fix an objective for this we would say that we want our turnover in civil activity to match that of our defence, and here we are talking about several hundreds of millions of dollars," Seznec added.

He was speaking on the sidelines of the signing of a $267 million supply deal between Thales and US Cisco Systems and Saudi mobile operator Mobily and two other Saudi firms on Tuesday.

Thales plays a "modest" role in providing security for the annual Muslim pilgrimage in Mecca and has deployed telecom infrastructure for state oil giant Aramco and Saudi Electricity, Seznec said.

The company, which also provides civilian electronics services, also had other business in Saudi Arabia.

"Another contract that we are delivering now is digital television which is under deployment now and is eagerly awaited in this country with some soccer ideas," he said.
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