PARIS — Philippe Burtin will step down as chairman of French land weapons company Nexter Systems when the cross-border KANT joint venture with Krauss-Maffei Wegmann is formally created in the next few days, holding company Giat Industries said announced.

"On closing day, Mr Philippe Burtin will surrender his group mandates to the board, including that of Nexter Systems," the state-owned holding company said in a Tuesday Dec. 8 (eds: correct) statement.

The successor chairman expected to be named is Stéphane Mayer, chief executive of Daher, a privately owned company that builds the TBM training aircraft, an executive said.

"During the meeting of the board of directors of Giat Industries, the decision was made to change the governance of the companies of the group in order to adapt it to its new configuration within the KANT project framework," Giat said.

KANT, which stands for  -- standing for KMW And Nexter Together, is the project name for the new company, which will be 50:50 percent held by Nexter and KMW. 

The creation of the French-German joint venture relied much on work by the Agence des Participations, the state agency that holds the public ownership in Nexter, said Jean-Pierre Maulny, deputy director of think tank Institut des Relations Internationales et Stratégiques.

The joint venture will have combined annual sales of almost €2 billion euros (US $2.2 billion), and is seen as marking a step toward European industrial consolidation.

One of the key issues in the creation of KANT has been German political sensitivity over arms exports.

France and Germany said in a joint Wednesday Dec. 9 statement on the "strategic cooperation" behind KANT: "Concerning decisions relating to the future of the supply chain and key technology for the joint venture, France and Germany will hold timely consultation with a view to reaching consensus. 

"In order to increase the economic efficiency of the joint venture, we will examine the possibilities for improving the framework of conditions and instruments which strengthen competitiveness in the international market."

Giat, with the Wegmann family holding company, will hold 50 percent of the capital of the new company, which controls 100 percent of the capital of Nexter Systems and KMW. The closing of the deal is expected in the next few days, Giat said.


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