Australia’s DefendTex in talks to buy Brazil’s missile-maker Avibras

SAO PAULO — Australian defense company DefendTex is negotiating the acquisition of Avibras, a Brazilian firm known for its Astros missile launching system, the latter announced Monday.

Avibras was in debt for 376 million (U.S. $75 million) reals as of April 2023, according to the metalworkers union representing São José dos Campos — where the company has its headquarters — and the surrounding region.

According to Avibras’ April 1 statement, the companies are in “advanced talks to facilitate a potential investment aimed at the economic and financial recovery of Avibras, in order to keep its manufacturing units in Brazil, resume operations as soon as possible, and maintain the supply stipulated in contracts with the Brazilian government and other clients.”

Avibras did not disclose the value of the potential sale.

Of the company’s previously reported debt, the union said 14.5 million reals is related to labor. The union noted salaries were delayed by 10 months, which drove protests by workers in February 2024.

However, Avibras is actively seeking international contracts, having competed, for example, in the Spanish defense program SILAM, in partnership with the Spain-based company New Technologies Global Systems in October 2023.

Last month, the company signed a memorandum of understanding with the Czech company Excalibur International, focusing on jointly developing and manufacturing defense equipment.

A Brazilian company that discussed the potential sale with Defense News on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the topic said the announcement “has set off a red alert for the defense sector and is a serious risk to Brazil’s sovereignty” because it could lead to the transfer of an “important national technological legacy built over decades” to a foreign entity.

For its part, the Brazilian government has expressed concern about Avibras’ future.

“The government’s biggest concern is the company shutting down,” Carlos Zarattini, the vice chief of the Chamber of Deputies who would participate in the acquisition negotiations, told local media.

Pedro Pligher is a Latin America correspondent for Defense News. He has reported on politics, economics and the Brazilian small arms industry.

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