Israel Aerospace Industries hunts for US acquisitions

Israel Aerospace Industries, the country’s top-selling defence group, is on the hunt for takeover targets in the US, according to its chief executive Joseph Weiss.

The state-owned company, whose product lines include missiles, air-defence systems, satellites and business jets, plans to expand its US operations in the wake of America’s $38bn, 10-year military aid package for Israel, Mr Weiss said in an interview. 

The package, the largest of its kind in US history, was agreed last year with President Barack Obama’s former administration, and will give preference to US manufacturers in supplying Israel with military goods. 

He said that IAI could in time employ “hundreds of people” in the US. “We are looking to do some M&A activity in the US, to buy something.”

Mr Weiss added that IAI had begun preliminary work to look for potential acquisitions, but declined to go into details. He said he expected the company to proceed with its plan by 2018. 

“I am talking about hundreds of millions of dollars,” Mr Weiss said, when asked about what it might pay for its US targets. “This means a big, big move.”

IAI already has a subsidiary in the US state of Maryland, Elta Systems, that makes radar systems. Stark Aerospace, based in Mississippi, makes unmanned aerial vehicles, electro-optics, and radar equipment for the Israeli group. 

Elbit, IAI’s biggest Israeli rival, also has a substantial presence in the US market, where it co-developed a high-tech helmet for Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighter jet with Rockwell Collins. 

However, large-scale acquisitions in America would be a big step for…

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