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Saab extends UK defence presence

15th November 2012 - 13:24 by Beth Stevenson in London

Saab extends UK defence presence

Saab plans to extend its presence in the UK by heading its European and Middle Eastern business in London as of 1 January 2013.

This will expand its UK headquarters, established in 2011, and follows from a strategic shift within Saab that will see a push in six key regions internationally, namely: Europe and Middle East; Nordic countries; US; Asia; Southern Africa; and India.

‘The reason we are doing this is so that we are closer to the customer,’ Tomas Samuelsson, the new president and head of market area Europe and Greater Middle East, told Shephard on 14 November. ‘Our aim is for quite a substantial expansion.

‘The Saab company over the past ten years has gone from 70% being Swedish business, to 70% coming from export.’

Samuelsson explained that the UK is well situated both geographically and politically on a government-to-government level.

‘We have a long relationship in the UK with support from the government.’

Currently the simulation and operations element of Saab is based in the UK, as is its underwater business that works on developing UUVs. UK industry also provides some 30% of the components for Saab’s Gripen fighter jets, all of which Samuelsson said make the country an ideal place to expand furthermore into.

‘We consider the UK and London as a super hub,’ Peter Hultin, MD of Saab Technologies UK added.

‘Sweden, 10-15 years ago, underwent drastic spending cuts,’ Samuelsson continued. ‘We have managed during these years to increase our volume in exports.’

He used the Gripen as a case in point, describing how over the years it has advanced in capability, but has been made less costly in parallel, an ability that Saab can bring to the international market.

Particular programmes the company sees as growth areas for the UK include airborne surveillance platforms, as well as unmanned capability development.

‘A strength we have is that we have a portfolio stretching through land, air and marine, so we can base ourselves anywhere,’ Hutlin concluded.

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