John Cockerill to acquire military vehicle maker Arquus

The Belgian tech group, John Cockerill, to buy one of France’s leading military vehicle manufacturers, Arquus

John Cockerill Group, provider of large-scale technological solutions in the energy, defence, environment, transport and infrastructure sectors and a major supplier of light tank turrets, and firing and simulation systems, will be purchasing the French land vehicle manufacturer, Arquus, from its current owner, the Volvo Group, for an estimated €300m. According to Volvo, the deal is expected to be finalised by the end of March once the required staff consultations and regulatory approvals have been completed.

Synergies in light tanks and vehicles

For John Cockerill, the acquisition will draw on both of the companies’ expertise and offerings to create more competitive vehicles for land forces as well as strengthen the group’s footprint in the land defence market. “The combined offer of light tank turrets and vehicles from John Cockerill Defence and Arquus will generate important synergies that will result in more innovative and more competitive vehicles to equip land forces around the world,” said Johan Cockerill CEO François Michel.

The group also expects that bringing Arquus onboard to complement its current range of products will enable it to better serve land forces in Europe and other areas of the world by providing both quality and cost competitiveness.

John Cockerill
Credit: John Cockerill Group

Building cooperation between France and Belgium

Beyond the resulting combined know-how of the two firms, for John Cockerill the acquisition of Arquus will also strengthen cooperation between France and Belgium, representing a milestone in the creation of a European defence champion, uniquely positioned to meet the evolving needs of governments in Belgium, France, and in other partner countries. “The expected acquisition of Arquus by John Cockerill is a transformative step for the European defence sector in the field of light tanks,” Michel asserted.

The groundwork for cooperation between France and Belgium was already set down when the two European nations signed a motorised capability defence agreement, CaMo, back in 2022. In the context of the CaMo partnership agreement, Belgium is acquiring 382 Griffons, 60 Jaguars, and 28 Caesar truck-mounted artillery systems.

New defence unit

Targeting an annual turnover of €1bn, the group’s new defence unit incorporating Arquus’ capabilities will employ some 2,000 people and boast key operation bases in Belgium, France, Italy, India, and Saudi Arabia.

John Cockerill Group, with more than 6,000 employees, operations that extend across 24 countries on five continents, and revenues in 2022 of €1.046bn, is the larger company. Arquus counts 1,260 employees and reported revenues in 2022 of €550m, which, as reported by Breaking Defense plunged seven percent in 2021 due to the stiff competition the company has been facing from South Korean and Turkish manufacturers.  

Participation in the French Army’s Scorpion programme

Arquus has been involved in the French Army’s Scorpion programme, producing the next generation of wheeled armoured vehicles Griffon, Jaguar, and Serval, along with two other suppliers, Nexter and Thales.

As a part of the project, Arquus produced and developed engines, transmissions, suspension, steering, and brakes for these new vehicles and was also responsible for managing the spare parts from all three companies involved in the joint venture that was created to manage the Scorpion programme. In addition, Arquus manufactures the truck that carries Nexter’s Caesar 155mm artillery system.

In another recent contracting agreement, Arquus, KNDS France (formerly Nexter), and John Cockerill, have been contracted to start a €15m development program for Armored Engagement Support Vehicles (VBAE) encompassing some 2,000 VBAEs of which France is set to buy 1,440 and Belgium the remaining 600.

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Featured image photo credit: John Cockerill Group.

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