Spain is on target to become Europe’s leading supplier of arms and munitions following its acquisition of a major Portuguese production rival. Government sources have confirmed that the Spanish have acquired INDEP, a firm of armaments suppliers, after the Portuguese ministers declared that the company was no longer a viable financial and commercial entity. Negotiations between INDEP and the Spanish armament firm Santa Barbara Systems (SBS), a subsidiary of the North American giant General Dynamics, were finalised at the end of last summer, after INDEP had already ceased operating.
“This investment mean we are modernising and expanding our productive capacity and reinforcing our position as one of the leading suppliers of small-calibre munitions in Europe,” said Charles Meeks, an advisor to the SBS subsidiary. The firm, in conjunction with General Dynamics, now invests heavily in the supply of 5.56 and 7.62mm arms, in addition to armour-plated combat vehicles and other light firearms.
The Portuguese Ministry of Defence has defended the sale of the firm to Santa Bárbara, saying there was no alternative: “INDEP simply did not prove viable. When we came to power, the company had accumulated liabilities of around 15 million euros and lacked the funds to buy necessary materials. Even with the production line functioning there was great difficulty in reaching external markets, in contrast to what happens with the Spanish. The only solution was to sell,” said a spokesperson.
Another, unnamed military expert agreed that INDEP was simply unable to reach foreign clients once Portugal’s armed forces reduced their supply needs. He also cited the example of a failed deal: “I remember one time INDEP reached a business agreement with Macau, after Portugal had pulled out of the territory. INDEP pulled out because of the fear of their munitions reaching China. The same thing happened with Hong Kong,” revealed the source.