New Cassidian CEO puts focus outside Europe after India setback

FRANKFURT Fri Feb 1, 2013 6:50pm IST

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - The new head of Cassidian, the defence arm of European aerospace group EADS, has vowed to take the company's focus away from Europe after missing out on a $15 billion Indian order for fighter jets last year.

Germany-based Cassidian had to do more to better understand its customers and take more of an international view, Bernhard Gerwert, chief-executive since September, said.

"We are still putting too much focus on Europe," he was quoted as saying in Cassidian's employee magazine.

Gerwert said Cassidian aims to make 50 percent of its revenues outside of Europe by 2016, compared with around 30 percent now.

As part of that drive, on Friday Peter Gutsmiedl, already CEO of its Indian unit, was appointed the company's first head of Asia-Pacific to push for more business in the region.

Cassidian, as part of the Eurofighter Typhoon consortium, lost out to France's Rafale last year in a contest to supply India with 126 warplanes, after having been tipped as favourite.

It then launched a review of contract management and initiated a management shake-up, appointing Gerwert as CEO in September.

"We lost a number of key international campaigns in 2012 due to a lack of competitiveness and insufficient knowledge of our customers," said Gerwert.

With traditional defence budgets in Europe and the U.S. coming under pressure from government cutbacks, Cassidian will also look to focus more on unmanned systems - also known as drones - and products for the civil market, such as border security and cyber security.

"We will invest in capability enhancements to the Eurofighter for global export, unmanned aircraft systems, border security and cyber security," Gerwert said.

The German defence minister said on Friday that the country's military will acquire armed drones, to protect soldiers in dangerous situations.

(Reporting by Jens Hack; Writing by Victoria Bryan; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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