French group Thales in partnership with EXPAL for Australia military

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Thales is seen on a company building in Brest, France, March 14, 2022. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

PARIS (Reuters) -French defence and technology group Thales announced on Monday a partnership with EXPAL Systems to provide material for the Australian military, as France and Australia aim to improve diplomatic relations after a dispute last year.

French President Emmanuel Macron told new Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese last week that he wanted to focus on the future as they try to rebuild relations badly strained by a decision by Australia's former prime minister to ditch a lucrative submarine contract with France.

Thales Australia said its partnership with EXPAL would focus on naval munitions for the Australian Defence Force, as well as working on future technology for the Royal Australian Navy. Thales did not reveal any financial details of the deal.

"This is a clear demonstration of the company’s long-term commitment to growing and maintaining an enduring, sustainable and resilient sovereign industrial munitions capability for the Australian Defence Force," said Thales Australia and New Zealand executive Corry Roberts.

Relations between France and Australia hit a low last October when Australia cancelled a multi-billion-dollar order for submarines with French military shipyard Naval Group - which is a unit of Thales - and opted instead for an alternative deal with the United States and Britain.

Last month, Australia's new Labor-led government reached a 555 million euro ($578.6 million) settlement for Naval Group, after the cancellation of the submarine order.

The French state owns a 25.7% stake in Thales, while French company Dassault Aviation also has a 24.6% stake in Thales.

($1 = 0.9592 euros)

(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Kim Coghill, Robert Birsel)

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