British defence group BAE Systems is holding talks with Saudi Arabia on setting up a joint venture to transform their long-standing relationship, the Sunday Times reported.
The British group, formerly known as British Aerospace, is believed to be planning to create a private sector company with the Saudi authorities to be owned 51 percent by a Saudi group and 49 percent by BAE, the newspaper said.
The deal is not expected to be announced until next year. It would likely include the sale of Eurofighter and Hawk aircraft, according to experts cited by the Sunday Times.
Last month, BAE executives said there was a "real chance" of selling Eurofighter combat jets to Saudi Arabia some time in the future, although no immediate deal was in the pipeline. The Sunday Times reported two weeks ago that BAE and the British government were stepping up talks with the authorities in Riyadh on a deal worth £ six billion ($ nine billion, € 9.7 billion) for the delivery of 48 Eurofighter jets and 40 Hawk trainer/fighters and construction of an airbase. BAE Systems controls 38 percent of Eurofighter with the European defence giant EADS controlling the rest.
© Agence France Presse 2000