Hensoldt has merged its two South African subsidiaries, GEW Technologies and Hensoldt Optronics South Africa, into the consolidated Hensoldt South Africa brand. It is hoped the move will drive growth and expansion for the company?s products, services, sales and R&D.
“Consolidating GEW and Optronics under the Hensoldt brand is an important strategic step towards the future growth of our South African business,” said Thomas Müller, CEO of Hensoldt, at the formal announcement on 4 September. “We will leverage the power of the Hensoldt brand and our global footprint to open new market opportunities for our South African business.”
GEW has for decades been a highly-regarded specialist in spectrum dominance and electronic warfare systems, whilst Hensoldt Optronics is one of the world’s leading optronics suppliers, covering such things as airborne gimbals, submarine periscopes and laser rangefinders. Together, the two companies have more than 70 years of combined experience and proven industry success.
“This is a major step towards our Hensoldt South Africa growth strategy and the creation of a South African sensor solution house,” said Celia Pelaz, member of Hensoldt’s executive committee and responsible for the company’s strategic development in South Africa. “We are committed to further investing in the growth of our South African footprint and support president Ramaphosa’s announced investment drive. Our experience in the country shows that international investment and cooperation that has been added to local infrastructure, skills and capacity is the perfect mix for business success and local economy growth.”
GEW and Hensoldt Optronics have a combined turnover of more than R1,5 billion per annum, which is set to grow as Hensoldt invests half a billion Rand in South Africa, indicating the confidence the company has in this market. As it designs, manufactures and supports all its products locally, Hensoldt South Africa is a vital supplier of sovereign electronic warfare technology to the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).
Hensoldt does not only service the defence and security markets – for instance, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has been using its direction-finding equipment for spectrum monitoring and regulation for more than 20 years. It is also active in wildlife conservation, having developed a combined radar and electro-optical surveillance system that is protecting over a thousand rhinos in South Africa.
Towards its goal of becoming the leading defence and security electronics house in the region, it aims to expand its product portfolio and expand its market, particularly in Africa, the Middle East, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and Europe. It will continue to offer all of its existing products to customers whilst expanding its offering into the radar, data link, Identification Friend or Foe (IFF), customer services and business development fields, amongst many others as part of its ambitious growth blueprint.
Raynier Van der Watt, who founded Parsec in the mid-1990s and subsequently worked for Etion, the merged entity of Parsec and Ansys, has been appointed as managing director of Hensoldt South Africa. “We have the competency and capacity in South Africa to build a global organisation from the South African base. This includes organic and inorganic growth, with investment within Hensoldt and other businesses. As a hub of innovation and excellence, Hensoldt South Africa will match and exceed the best the world has to offer,” he stated.
Hensoldt South Africa is the largest industrial presence of the group outside of Europe, with 600 employees, who are all South African (Hensoldt has an international workforce of some 5000). With the company’s ambitious expansion plans, it is expecting to grow its skills base by several hundred mechanical, electronic and computer engineers.
“One of my goals is to make sure we are a responsible corporate citizen and follow the recently launched South African Defence Sector Charter. We will make sure this company has an improved good Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) rating,” Van der Watt said. This includes building suppliers and growing the local industry.
“In terms of how we want to innovate – what Hensoldt has realised, is that the future is not building weapons or platforms – it is about data and information. Our positioning is, we are a sensor solutions house. We want to be the number one sensor solutions house in the world, which means we design sensors that generate data; positioning ourselves closer to where the future lies, which is closer to the data.”