Is RTD for sale?

RTDRenault Trucks Défense (RTD), the Swedish-owned French manufacturer of the Sherpa, the VAB, the VBCI and the PAP, might be for sale according to our colleague at l’Opinion who wrote on 24 October that three pension funds and various “foreign companies” might be interested in buying RTD and that decisions “could be announced in the upcoming days.

Four days later no more has been heard.

Contacted by FOB this morning both the Volvo Group and RTD responded “no comment.” Joakin Kenndal, acting head of media relations at the Volvo Group in Sweden said “yes, I’ve heard these rumours too but our policy is that we don’t comment on speculation.”

And RTD’s own media spokesman told FOB exactly the same thing.

Emmanuel Levacher

Emmanuel Levacher

The strange thing is that FOB was at a small lunch exactly three weeks ago, with just two other journalists, hosted by Emmanuel Levacher, RTD’s CEO. There was absolutely no hint whatsoever that the company might be for sale. Indeed, Levacher said the 1,000 employee group “is in very good health and we are looking at the future with optimism.” He said that last year’s turnover of €500m would not only be equalled but beaten in 2016.

RTD is currently 100% owned by Volvo Group Governmental Sales (VGGS), a division of Volvo specialised in the sale to states and governments of armoured and logistics vehicles for armies and security forces. It earns 50% of its turnover in France and owns three brands: RTD, Akmat and Panhard which represent 90% of its activity. The remaining 10% are provided by Mack Defense in the United States, Volvo Defence in Sweden and VGGS Oceania in Australia. In January Levacher told parliamentarians that VGGS supplies “around 90% of the armoured and logistics platforms currently in service in the army” adding that the group would “supply all the mobility of the Jaguar and Griffon armoured vehicles as well as the self-defence turrets.

The French Army’s €6bn Scorpion programme will renew the tactical battle groups’ major equipment with 1,688 Griffons and 248 Jaguars delivered between 2018-2031. They will respectively replace the ERC90, AMX10, VAB HOT, and the 30 members of the VAB family. It thus seems unlikely to FOB that at the height of the programme one of the major players would be sold off to a “foreign company.”

The stockmarket remains sanguine where the Volvo Group is concerned with Volvo’s performance trending up and just having its “hold” rating reiterated by analysts at the Société Générale.