Sofema (Société française d’exportation de matériel militaire et aéronautique) is a French company which specializes today in the renovation, marketing and maintenance of first generation land, sea and air equipment, mainly from material sourced from the French Armed Forces. The company is headquartered in Levallois, near Paris. Technical facilities are situated in La Teste (Gironde - in the south west of France) and Châteauroux (Indre). Sofema was used by Indian lobbyist Niira Radia and Singh for routing their money which they earned as commission in the deal with Sahara Airlines to negotiate the purchase of helicopters from Eurocopter.
Sofema was created in 1997 from the merger of two utility companies (Ofema and Sofma), responsible for supporting and guiding the foreign sales of large French aeronautic and defence groups.
Its first President (until 2001) was the Préfet Ivan Barbot (former president of Ofema) who oversaw the privatization of the company in 1998 around a core group of important shareholders including EADS, Safran (born from the merger of Snecma and Sagem), DCNS, Thales, NEXTER SYSTEMS (formerly GIAT), Dassault Aviation (represent by Eric Trappier), Renault Trucks (Volvo Group).
Appointed CEO and Chairman in 2001, General (CR) Bernard Norlain embarked on a policy of diversification in response to a gradual erosion of its core business – due, particularly, to the establishment of sales teams within its holding. In 2007, under the leadership of its new chairman and CEO, Guillaume Giscard d'Estaing, Sofema underwent a profound shift in its business.
In effect, the company passed in just a few years from playing a role as intermediary in large French export contracts, to selling renovated land, air and sea equipment. Products include the VBC-90 internal security vehicle, Véhicule de l'Avant Blindé APC, and Aérospatiale Alouette III helicopter, in addition to the AML and Eland series of light armoured cars.
New clients (in Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, Southeast Asia), are countries that want to control their equipment costs while maintaining their defense capabilities and economic development with proven material and the latest technology, accompanied by the provision of support and training. Sofema is ISO 9001-2008 and EN 9120 certified - and has AFAQ contractor status. The firm is also engaged in the ISO 26000 (international standard for social responsibility of organizations) process.
Depending on the needs of its customers, Sofema acquires first generation equipment, mainly of French origin, and overhauls this to a pristine state in its workshops, or through its specialized partners. Contracts include significant support to implementation and training to buyer-countries, equal to the services provided by major industry in exports of new equipment.
Complementary to its renovation activities, Sofema offers its customers a large stock of spare parts, complemented by a network of partners and suppliers. The company boasts a catalogue of millions of references which permits replacement of equivalent parts that are difficult to find, and can manufacture identical elements in its workshops if they no longer exist.
Sofema’s International Advisory department aims to assist industry groups around the world in their international development. It offers combined audit financing, commercial representation, services across five continents in the areas of defence and security, aerospace, energy, transport infrastructure and the environment.
- Défense : Sofema redéploie sa logistique - Les Echos, June 22nd 2011.
- Khetan, Ashish (December 24, 2010). "Niira and I went to Zurich to open bank accounts: Rao Dheeraj Singh". India Today.
- Sofema and its shareholders.
- Sofema Catalogue
- Commerce d'armement triangulaire Belgique-France-Tchad Archived 2014-11-29 at the Wayback Machine
- Papers and Death Merchants