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Ruag plans to pull out of defence and focus on space 

Done with defence? Ruag's statements come after heavy losses and amidst growing public pressure for a halt to Swiss arms exports. It also supplies the national army. © Keystone / Peter Klaunzer

Ruag International has said it wants to divest its defence-related divisions to focus on the booming space market. The effect on jobs is not yet clear. 

This content was published on March 10, 2021 - 16:10
RTS/jc

"We are withdrawing from all defence-related businesses," CEO André Wall said in an interview with the AWP news agency on Tuesday. This includes its ammunition factory in the Swiss town of Thun, military maintenance activities in Australia and Malaysia, as well as simulation and training activities in France, Sweden and Switzerland.  

The Swiss-government-owned group currently has four divisions: Space, Aerostructures, MRO International and Ammotec, the last two of which it wants to sell off. In October last year, the group said it was losing nearly CHF3 million ($3.2 million) a month and that it would cut up to 150 jobs by the end of 2021. It is to be fully privatised in the medium term. 

Part of MRO International’s activities at the Bavarian site in Oberpfaffenhofen have already been sold to General Atomics Europe. It also wants to divest itself of Ruag Ammotec, which specialises in ammunition, by the end of the year. However, the lower house of the Swiss parliament last week adopted a motion to halt the sale of this division, which employs more than 2,200 people, including 380 in Thun. 

‘Beyond gravity’ 

The Bern-based group also wants to reorient Ruag Aerostructures, which has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic’s toll on the airline industry. "No one flies, no one orders aircraft parts," said Wall. He also did not rule out selling off this division, which has 1,250 employees. "I do not exclude a divestment to a strategic partner," he added. 

Ruag International wants to focus on its Space division, which has 1,300 employees, and reposition it under a new brand, “Beyond Gravity”, in the medium term, according to Wall. It says this sector could be worth some CHF900 million by 2040, with annual growth rates of over 16%. "We want to develop integrated satellite and launch system capabilities with strong partners in Europe," said the CEO. 


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