March 8, 2018 / 7:29 AM / 10 months ago

Dassault Aviation voices Brexit concerns as it posts higher profits

French fighter jet Rafale made by Dassault performs during the Breitling Airshow in Sion, Switzerland September 15, 2017. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

PARIS (Reuters) - Dassault Aviation (AVMD.PA), one of France’s leading military and civilian jet makers, voiced concerns over the impact of Brexit on Thursday, as it reported higher 2017 profits.

Dassault Aviation’s head Eric Trappier told reporters that uncertainty over British defense spending and the Brexit process could impact French and British co-operation on joint military projects.

In 2016, France and Britain agreed to invest 2 billion euros ($2.5 billion) to help build a new drone, and in January this year the two countries also unveiled further joint initiatives in security and military spheres.

Britain’s BAE Systems (BAES.L) and Rolls-Royce (RR.L), along with Dassault Aviation, Safran (SAF.PA) and Thales (TCFP.PA) of France, are among those involved in the drone project.

However, Trappier said there had been delays to that drone program, and added there were questions over the impact that Brexit could have on British government spending.

Last year, France and Germany edged toward achieving a 70-year-old ambition to integrate European defenses when they signed a pact with 21 other EU governments to fund, develop and deploy armed forces after Britain’s decision to quit the bloc.

Dassault Aviation forecast delivering 40 of its Falcon planes and 12 of its Rafale fighter jets for 2018.

Net sales were expected to be similar to the 2017 figure, while the company raised its dividend to 15.30 euros from 12.10 euros last year, with Dassault shares rising 1.6 percent in mid-session trading.

Last month, Dassault Aviation announced plans for a new long-range business jet, renewing a battle with Gulfstream (GD.N) at the top end of the market as demand for the ultimate status symbol recovers from a prolonged recession.

Editing by GV De Clercq/Sudip Kar-Gupta

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