Rheinmetall, an over 130-year-old German defence manufacturer, is exploring options to enter the Indian defence market in collaboration with state-run engineering major BHEL. The company has shown keen interest in investing in the Uttar Pradesh Defence Corridor and is in talks with BHEL as well as the Uttar Pradesh government in this regard.
The CEO of Rheinmetall Electronics Division, Susanne Wiegand, and the CEO of Rheinmetall Air Defense, Fabian Ochsner held a video conference with UP’s investment and promotion of MSME minister Siddharth Nath Singh over the proposed investment in the state.
Talking to FE, an official said that the German company has submitted an expression of interest to BHEL regarding this and if the partnership matures, it has the potential to result in an investment of over $1 billion.
When asked about the nature of the collaboration, an official associated with the German company said that it is too early for that. “We have not reached the level yet. BHEL, being a government of India Navratna PSU, will have to examine the proposal in consultation with the ministry of heavy industries and commerce ministry and get back to us,” he said on condition of anonymity, adding that BHEL has a few facilities in UP, including in Kanpur and Jhansi, which come under UP’s defence corridor.
“Since UP is aggressively wooing investments in the defence corridor, top officials of Rheinmetall requested an interaction with GoUP to understand the various policies in UP, including Invest UP and the Defence Policy and the incentives and other assistance that the government can provide,” he said, adding that it can result in big investment and value addition to Indian defence industry.
The company has promised to return soon for another iteration with some concrete proposal after discussion with BHEL on exactly where it can to put up a plant and the quantum of the investment.
The first project that is being targeted is Skyshield air defense gun, which is considered the best air def gun in the world, followed by tank guns and artillery guns.
The UP government, on its part, has extended all support and assistance and clear your proposal in quick time.
It may be mentioned here that BHEL had in May this year, invited expressions of interest (EOI) from global OEM firms to leverage its facilities as well as capabilities and to shift their production base to India amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The EOI was issued on premise that there were a large number of OEM firms who intended to shift their manufacturing base from China to other countries after the Covid-19 outbreak.
“The ongoing economic disruption across the world due to Covid-19 has highlighted the dangers of manufacturing activities being concentrated in a single location and thrown up the need for diversification of supply chains and manufacturing,” the company had said in a statement.
BHEL has a total manpower strength of about 34,000 which includes 9,000 engineers. The company said this move will further promote ‘Make-in-India’ and support international companies for setting up manufacturing base in the country.