Thomson-CSF

Last updated

Thomson-CSF
Type Société Anonyme
Industry Aerospace
Defence
Electronics
Founded1968
Defunct2000
Successor Thales Group
Headquarters,
France
Area served
Worldwide
Products avionics, radios, radars
Website www.thomson-csf.com

Thomson-CSF was a French company that specialized in the development and manufacture of electronics with a heavy focus upon the aerospace and defence sectors of the market.

Contents

Thomson-CSF was formed in 1968 following the merger of Thomson-Houston-Hotchkiss-Brandt with the Compagnie Générale de Télégraphie Sans Fil (General Wireless Telegraphy Company, commonly abbreviated as CSF), these two companies being the source of the name Thomson-CSF. It operated as an electronics specialist on products such as broadcasting equipment, electroacoustics, shortwave radio sets, radar systems and television. During the 1970s, the company diversified manufacturing backend telephony equipment, semiconductors, and medical imaging apparatus. It also entered into large deals outside of the domestic market, acquiring considerable business in the Middle East.

During the late 1980s, Thomson-CSF, anticipating defence spending cutbacks, conducted a radical business restructuring, merging its semiconductor interests with those of the Italian defence group Finmeccanica and exchanging its medical imaging technology for General Electric's consumer electronics businesses. Towards the latter decades of its operations, Thomson-CSF built itself up into a multinational company. During 1989, Thomson-CSF acquired Philips' defence electronics business, Hollandse Signaalapparaten B.V. In 1999, the company was privatised, but not before disposing of its consumer electronics businesses. Shortly after, Thomson-CSF took over the British defence electronics company Racal Electronics.

In December 2000, Thomson-CSF was rebranded Thales Group .

History

Thomson-CFS traces its origins to the formation of the American business Thomson-Houston Electric Company by Elihu Thomson and Edwin Houston in 1879. On 15 April 1892, the Thomson-Houston Electric Company merged with its rival, the Edison General Electric Company, to form General Electric (GE). That same year, the company formed an overseas subsidiary, named Thomson Houston International, based in France. During 1893, Compagnie Française Thomson-Houston (CFTH) was established as a partner to GE. CFTH's operations centered around the application of GE's patents in the growing electricity generation and transmission industry. [1] The modern Thomson companies evolved from this company. [1]

During 1966, CFTH merged with armaments and vehicle manufacturer Hotchkiss-Brandt to form Thomson-Houston-Hotchkiss-Brandt, which was subsequently renamed Thomson-Brandt. Two years later, the electronics business of Thomson-Brandt merged with Compagnie Générale de Télégraphie Sans Fil (General Wireless Telegraphy Company, commonly abbreviated as CSF) to form Thomson-CSF. [1] Prior to the merger, CFS had operated as a pioneer in the fields of broadcasting, electroacoustics, shortwave radio, radar systems and television. [1] Thomson Brandt maintained a significant shareholding in the merged company (approximately 40%).

During the 1970s, Thomson-CSF received its first major contract in the Middle Eastern market. In this period the company diversified into several new sectors, leading to it manufacturing backend telephony equipment, semiconductors and medical imaging apparatus. [1] By the early 1980s Thomson-CSF was in a weak financial position with a high level of debt. While it possessed a diversified portfolio of businesses, its market share within the majority of these many sectors was viewed as being too small to be realistically profitable despite increasing business from overseas buyers. [1]

During 1982, both Thomson-Brandt and Thomson-CSF were nationalised by France's Mitterrand government. As a consequence, Thomson-Brandt was renamed Thomson SA (Société Anonyme) and merged with Thomson-CSF. Throughout the 1980s, the company's financial position improved dramatically as undertook a major reorganisation, focusing its efforts on the production of electronics for professional and defence customers. [1]

In 1983, it divested Thomson-CSF Téléphone , its civil telecommunications division, to telecommunications specialist Alcatel. Four years later, its semiconductor interests were merged with those of the Italian defence group Finmeccanica. [1] That same year, Thomson-CSF's medical imaging technology was exchanged with GE for GE's RCA and consumer electronics businesses. [1]

Thomson-CSF Cyrano IV airborne radar as used on the Dassault Mirage F1 Thomson CSF Cyrano IV-001.jpg
Thomson-CSF Cyrano IV airborne radar as used on the Dassault Mirage F1

During the late 1980s, Thomson-CSF, anticipating future defence spending cutbacks and a downturn in its lucrative export contracts, initiated a restructuring of its businesses with the aim of maintaining its margins. [1] A policy of proactive external growth was adopted, focusing on the European market. Between 1987 and 1976, the company's non-French subsidiaries' share of consolidated revenues rose from 5% to 25%. During 1988, a new division, Thomson Consumer Electronics was formed. In 1995, this division was rebranded as Thomson Multimedia. [1] During 1989, it acquired Philips' defence electronics business, Hollandse Signaalapparaten B.V. During the 1990s, Thomson-CSF gained a controlling interest in Sextant Avionique, which was formed by the merger of the company's avionics business with that of French aircraft manufacturer Aérospatiale. [1] The company also divested its interests in the French bank Crédit Lyonnais and semiconductor manufacturer SGSThomson. [1]

During the late 1990s, French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin's Plural Left government initiated a policy of privatisation of several state-owned companies, including Thomson-CSF. [2] [3] During April 1998, several of the affected companies, including Aérospatiale, Alcatel, Dassault Industries, Thomson-CSF and Thomson SA reached a cooperation agreement endorsed by the French government. Several of these terms brought about a major restructuring of Thomson-CSF. Firstly, the professional and defence electronics businesses of Alcatel and Dassault Électronique were merged with Thomson-CSF. [1] Secondly, satellite businesses of Alcatel, Aerospatiale and Thomson-CSF are merged to form a new entity, Alcatel Space; this was jointly owned by Alcatel and Thomson-CSF. [1]

By June 1998, implementation of the finalised agreement had commenced. [1] The majority of Thomson-CSF's capital was transferred into private ownership. The French State reduced its holding in the company from 58% to 40%. At the time, Thomson-CSF's principal private shareholders were Alcatel and Dassault Industries. [1] The division of the company's consumer electronics and defence businesses prior to privatisation brought about the creation of Thomson Multimedia, which was a distinct entity from Thomson-CSF. The independently-operating Thomson Multimedia has since been restructured and trades as Technicolor SA. [1]

Following its privatisation, Thomson-CSF continued to orient itself towards the defence electronics sector, establishing itself in overseas nations, including South Africa, Australia, South Korea and Singapore. [1] Shortly after its privatisation, the company began exploring the possibility of merging with British defence specialist Marconi Electronic Systems. Its ambitions were foiled by the success of a rival bid by the defence and aerospace firm British Aerospace, which rebranded itself as BAE Systems shortly thereafter. Keen to expand its defence and technology business, Thomson-CFS announced the acquisition of the British defence electronics company Racal Electronics, which it purchased for £1.3 billion. As a result of its takeover of Racal, the UK became Thomson-CSF's second-largest domestic industrial base after France. Racal was initially rebranded Thomson-CSF Racal plc. [1]

Shortly after the Racal acquisition, Thomson-CSF conducted a strategic review of its portfolio of businesses. It adopted a new organisational structure comprising three business areas: defence, aerospace, and information technology and services. [1] Management decided that the company ought to leverage its dual-purpose technology, marketing itself towards particular civil markets that held strong parallels with its established defence and aerospace competencies, such as mobile telecommunications. Meanwhile, non-strategic assets were divested. [1] Thomson-CSF also explored business opportunities further afield. In December 2000, it was announced that the company was forming a joint venture with the American defence company Raytheon. This arrangement was claimed to be first transatlantic joint venture in the defence sector. [1]

During December 2000, Thomson-CSF was officially rebranded as Thales (from the Greek philosopher Thales, pronounced [talɛs] reflecting its pronunciation in French). [4] [5]

Related Research Articles

Aérospatiale French aerospace manufacturer from 1970 to 1999

Aérospatiale, sometimes styled Aerospatiale, was a French state-owned aerospace manufacturer that built both civilian and military aircraft, rockets and satellites. It was originally known as Société nationale industrielle aérospatiale (SNIAS). Its head office was in the 16th arrondissement of Paris. The name was changed to Aérospatiale during 1970.

Marconi Electronic Systems (MES), or GEC-Marconi as it was until 1998, was the defence arm of General Electric Company (GEC). It was demerged from GEC and bought by British Aerospace (BAe) on 30 November 1999 to form BAE Systems. GEC then renamed itself Marconi plc.

The General Electric Company, or GEC, was a major British industrial conglomerate involved in consumer and defence electronics, communications, and engineering. The company was founded in 1886, was Britain's largest private employer with over 250,000 employees in the 1980s, and at its peak in the 1990s, made profits of over £1 billion a year.

Thales Group is a French multinational company that designs and builds electrical systems and provides services for the aerospace, defence, transportation and security markets. The company is headquartered in Paris' business district, La Défense, and its stock is listed on the Euronext Paris.

Technicolor SA French company

Technicolor SA, formerly Thomson SARL and Thomson Multimedia, is a Franco-American multinational corporation that provides creative services and technology products for the communication, media and entertainment industries. Technicolor's headquarters are located in Paris, France. Other main office locations include Los Angeles, California (US), New York, New York (US), London, England (UK), Bangalore, Karnataka (India) and Lawrenceville, Georgia (US).

Leonardo S.p.A. Italian defense and aerospace company

Leonardo S.p.A., formerly Leonardo-Finmeccanica and originally Finmeccanica, is an Italian multinational company specialising in aerospace, defence and security. Headquartered in Rome, Italy, the company has 180 sites worldwide. It is the eighth largest defence contractor in the world based on 2018 revenues. The company is partially owned by the Italian government, which holds 30.2% of the company's shares and is its largest shareholder.

Racal Former British electronics company

Racal Electronics plc was a British electronics company that was founded in 1950.

Thales Air Defence Limited (TADL), formerly Shorts Missile Systems (SMS), is a defence contractor based in Belfast, Northern Ireland producing short range air defence missiles.

Ferranti British electrical engineering company

Ferranti or Ferranti International plc was a UK electrical engineering and equipment firm that operated for over a century from 1885 until it went bankrupt in 1993. The company was once a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.

Thomson Marconi Sonar or TMS was formed in 1996 by the merger of the sonar systems businesses of French defence electronics specialist Thomson-CSF and British company GEC-Marconi after the payment of a balance by the latter. The new company was 50.1% owned by Thomson-CSF and 49.9% by GEC-Marconi. Denis Ranque was appointed as its CEO. The new company would head 3 operational entities:

Thorn EMI Defunct British conglomerate

Thorn EMI was a major British company involved in consumer electronics, music, defence, and retail. Created in October 1979, when Thorn Electrical Industries merged with EMI, it was listed on the London Stock Exchange and was once a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index. But, it demerged back to separate companies in 1996.

Thomson-Houston Electric Company

The Thomson-Houston Electric Company was a manufacturing company which was one of the precursors of the General Electric company.

Thales Underwater Systems or TUS is a subsidiary of the French defense electronics specialist Thales Group. It was created in 2001 and belongs to its naval division. It specializes in the development and manufacturing of sonar systems for submarines, surface warships and aircraft, as well as communications masts and systems for submarines. Its headquarters are located in Sophia Antipolis, France.

Denis Ranque French businessman

Denis Ranque is a French engineer and businessman who served as CEO and chairman of Thales Group from 1998 until 2009.

Thales Nederland B.V. is a subsidiary of the French multinational company Thales Group based in the Netherlands.

Thales Optronics is a multinational optronics manufacturer and a division of Thales Group. It has three main subsidiaries: the United Kingdom-based Thales Optronics Limited, the France-based Thales Optronique SA and the Netherlands-based Thales Optronics B.V.

RBE2

The RBE2 is a multirole radar developed during the 1990s for the Dassault Rafale, a French combat aircraft. The original RBE2 is a passive electronically scanned array. This has since been developed into the RBE2-AA, an active electronically scanned array.

Alcatel-Lucent French/American global telecommunications equipment company

Alcatel–Lucent S.A. was a French–American global telecommunications equipment company, headquartered in Boulogne-Billancourt, France. It was formed in 2006 by the merger of France-based Alcatel and U.S.-based Lucent, the latter being a successor of AT&T's Western Electric and Bell Labs.

Thales Alenia Space Satellite manufacturer

Thales Alenia Space is a Franco-Italian aerospace manufacturer specialising in the space industry. It is the largest satellite manufacturer based in Europe.

Erich Spitz is a French engineer and physicist, born in Brno (Czechoslovakia) on 27 March 1931.

References

Citations

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 "History". Thales Group . Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  2. Godsmark, Chris and John Lichfield. "Airbus set for privatisation as France abandons objection." The Independent , 28 August 1997.
  3. "Déclaration de M. Lionel Jospin, Premier ministre, sur le regroupement d'Aérospatiale-Matra et de Dasa et sur son importance pour la construction européenne dans les domaines de l'aéronautique civile et militaire, Strasbourg le 14 octobre 1999." discours.vie-publique.fr, 14 October 1999.
  4. "Thomson-CSF changes name to Thales". www.aerospaceonline.com. Retrieved 4 December 2018.
  5. "Thomson-CSF to become Thales". money.cnn.com. 6 December 2000. Retrieved 4 December 2018.

Further reading