Thales Group (French pronunciation: [talɛs]) is a French multinational company that designs and builds electrical systems and provides services for the aerospace, defence, transportation and security markets. Its headquarters are in La Défense (the business district of Paris), and its stock is listed on the Euronext Paris.
|Traded as||Euronext: HO|
CAC 40 Component
|Industry||Aerospace, Defence, Transport, Security|
|Founded||6 December 2000|
|Patrice Caine (CEO)|
|Products||Tactical radios, Remote controlled weapon stations, radars, infantry mobility vehicles, aerospace electronics|
Number of employees
The company changed its name to Thales (from the Greek philosopher Thales, pronounced [talɛs] reflecting its pronunciation in French) from Thomson-CSF in December 2000 shortly after the acquisition of Racal Electronics plc, a UK defence electronics group. It is partially state-owned by the French government, and has operations in more than 56 countries. It has 64,000 employees and generated €14.9 billion in revenues in 2016. As of 2017, it is also the 8th largest defence contractor in the world and 55% of its total sales are military sales.
Thales' predecessor, Thomson-CSF, evolved from Compagnie Française Thomson-Houston (CFTH), which was established in 1893. However Thomson-CSF itself was established in 1968 when Thomson-Brandt (then renamed CFTH) merged its electronics arm with that of Compagnie Générale de Télégraphie Sans Fil (CSF).
Thales formed a joint venture with Raytheon in June 2001 to combine their radar and communications systems divisions. Named ThalesRaytheonSystems, the firm is 50% owned by both parent companies. The joint venture was restructured in 2016 to switch focus exclusively on NATO agencies and NATO member states.
In 2002 Thales set up the joint venture company Armaris with the French shipbuilder DCN to offer a total "bottom up" shipbuilding capability.
In 2002, Thales Broadcast Multimedia, a former subsidiary of Thales, provided China with standard short-wave radio-broadcasting equipment designed for general public radio broadcasting. Although the contract was not at all for the purpose of jamming foreign radio stations broadcasting to China, it now appears that this is what the ALLISS antennas are being used for.
In April 2006, Thales announced it would be acquiring Alcatel's space business (67% of Alcatel Alenia Space and 33% of Telespazio), and Alcatel's Rail Signalling Solutions division in a deal which also raised Alcatel's ownership of Thales to 21.66 percent. The French government would also decrease its ownership in Thales to 27.1 percent from 31.3 percent as part of the acquisition. The deal would also include the Systems Integration activities (those not dedicated to telecoms operators, and covering mainly the transport and energy sectors). In January 2007, the 1.7 billion deal Euro ( $2.24 billion) was approved.
In 2008, Thales acquired British Hardware security module vendor nCipher. In 2018 it committed to divesting it as condition for its acquisition of Gemalto and in June 2019 it divested it to Entrust Datacard.
In December 2008, Alcatel agreed to sell a 20.8% stake in French engineering group Thales SA to Dassault Aviation SA for €1.57 billion ($2.27 billion).
In 2016, Thales acquired Vormetric, a data security company, for $400M.
In 2017 it acquired Guavus and bid €4.76B for digital security company Gemalto.
Thales Group supplies electronic devices and equipment used by the French Armed Forces from its past as Thomson-CSF, including the SPECTRA helmet for the army and the gendarmerie. It has worked with Dassault Aviation on the Rafale and made its SPECTRA defensive aids. Thales often worked with DCNS and designed the electronics used on French ships, and it is involved in the construction of both the Horizon and FREMM programs. Thales, as Thomson-CSF, was involved in the Taiwan frigates scandal, relating to the sale of La Fayette class frigates to Taiwan.
It is also present in Eurosam as Thomson-CSF was a founder of the consortium along Aérospatiale and Alenia Aeronautica. In February 2004, Thales was awarded a contract for a new command and control system for the French Navy, the SIC 21, that will be fitted on the Charles de Gaulle, many vessels and shore locations.
Additionally, the initially planned Future French aircraft carrier PA2 involved Thales as the main designer of the ship. However, the project was cancelled in 2013.
Thales is also working on X-ray imaging, finances, energy and operating commercial satellites.
By 2012 the company is mainly composed of five branches: Defense, Security, Space, Aerospace and Ground transportation.
Among the EU supported projects Thales participates in are:
- Galileo - the European system establishing GNSS, like GPS/Glonass/Compass/Beidou
- SESAR - both as aircraft equipment manufacturer and as ATM system vendor
The company's design won the competition for the Royal Navy Future Carrier (CVF). It is part of the AirTanker consortium, the winning bid for the RAF's Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft. Thales UK won the contract for the British Army UAV programme, Watchkeeper. It also produces the SWARM remote weapon station. Thales simulators include full motion devices as well as flat panel and other training facilities.
The Thales ATM (Air Traffic Management) solution is marketed under the name "TopSky", previously named "EuroCat". Thales supplies avionics to civil aircraft manufacturers, including Fly-By-Wire systems, cockpit systems, navigation computers, satellite communication, inflight entertainment and electrical systems.
In February 2018, Thales won on a A$1.2 billion ($946 million) contract with Airservices Australia and the Australian Department of Defence to unify Australia's civil and military airspace under a single air traffic control system, named "OneSKY".
Thales has major involvement in the UK rail industry as a result of the Racal merger and the 2006 acquisition of Alcatel's Rail Signalling Solutions division and transport business. Thales is to modernize 40 per cent of London Tube network London Underground.
In Denmark, Thales now owns 100% the "East-west Consortium" contracted for a country-wide travel card (Danish: "Rejsekort")..
In India, Thales was selected in December 2014 by the New Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) to deliver a completely automatic fare collection system, as well as ticketing equipment. Thales has also been contracted by Hyderabad Metro Rail since 2017 to provide train control automation and communication services for the metro in Hyderabad.
In 2014, the company was tasked with equipping the public transport system of Bordeaux, France, with a contactless ticketing and revenue collection system, to be installed by February 2017. However, due to delays, the system is not expected to be operational until 2019.
In Singapore, Thales was involved in a train collision resulting from a compatibility issue between the old signalling system's interface, and the new one. The accident resulted in 38 minor injuries. A similar incident would occur in March 2019 in Hong Kong on the Tsuen Wan line.
In Vietnam, the company was awarded a €265 million contract in 2017 to deliver the telecommunications system for the currently constructed Line 3 of the Hanoi metro. Running behind schedule by one year, the metro line is slated to be launched in 2023.
Thales is also a major manufacturer of in-flight entertainment systems on board airliners. Thales' primary competitors in this area of business include Panasonic Avionics Corporation, Rockwell Collins, and LiveTV (originally owned by JetBlue, now owned by Thales).
Thales also produces and installs ticketing and communications systems for public transportation via its ticketing and revenue collection division. In November 2016, Thales announced its intention to divest from its transport ticketing, revenue collection, road toll and car park management business. The company entered into negotiations with Paris-based Latour Capital, but the negotiations ended in 2017 after Latour Capital announced this business was "not aligned closely enough with its investment priorities." After subsequent talks with Chinese investors failed, Thales abandoned the divestment.
Thales' international subsidiaries generated 52% of the company's revenue in 2008, with Thales UK being the largest of these accounting for 13% of group revenue. Its large presence in the UK (largely as a result of the Racal acquisition) has resulted in several high-profile contracts.
- Africa: South Africa, Egypt, Morocco.
- Asia: Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Pakistan, India, China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, Japan, Vietnam, Taiwan
- Europe: Norway, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Austria, Romania, Poland, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, Turkey
- Oceania: Australia
- North America: Canada, Mexico, United States
- South America: Brazil, Dominican Republic.
Bordeaux project mismanagement
Although the ticketing system in Bordeaux was originally due for launch in summer 2017, multiple delays have pushed the new launch date back by 20 months to 2019. The project’s many setbacks are considered to reflect negatively on the city’s reputation, with Bordeaux’s city’s mayor and former French prime minister Alain Juppé, calling Thales’ inability to meet its commitments "unacceptable behaviour."
Centralised slush fund
Michel Josserand, former head of THEC, a subsidiary of Thales, and Dominique Monleau, alleged that Thales has a centralised slush fund that it uses to bribe officials.
In 2004 the World Bank’s Integrity Unit blacklisted Thales from any of the World Bank's projects for one year because of its fraudulent practices in a US$6.9 million contract for the supply and maintenance of motorcycles in Cambodia.
Taiwanese naval order
Around 1991-1993, French state owned Elf Aquitaine was involved (with other companies & countries) in selling frigates to Taiwan. On June 10, 2011 Thales Group and the French Government were ordered to pay 630 million euros (almost a billion US dollars) in fines after the courts heard that bribes had been paid to the Taiwanese government to win this large naval contract. Part (about 27%) of the responsibility was transferred to Thales Group because it held the legacy from Thomson-CSF. To this day, this is the largest corruption case in French history.
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