A Saab Gripen fighter jet. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Sweden, India Work on Security Accord That May Open for Jet Deal

(Bloomberg) -- India and Sweden agreed to work on a deal to allow increased sharing of classified information, potentially opening up for Saab AB to secure an order for its Gripen fighter jets.

An accord will be needed for cooperation on defense materials, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said at a press conference in Stockholm with his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, who was in town for a summit with Nordic leaders.

“This agreement would be an important step forward as we are deepening our bilateral cooperation in the defense domain,” Lofven said. The countries also agreed to set up a common task force on cyber security and form a partnership on innovation.

The visit comes as Swedish weapon manufacturer Saab is vying for a contract in India to build 110 locally-manufactured aircraft.

Swedish Enterprise Minister Mikael Damberg said agreeing to share secrets is common when these types of deals move forward. “When you enter into the final phase you need to learn more about company secrets and deeper information,” he said in an interview.

Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen said to reporters after the meetings that he was able to restart joint commission with India and also signed four bilateral agreements, including three in agriculture.

Modi also met with Swedish business leaders on Tuesday, who are eager to gain a bigger share of one of the world’s biggest and emerging markets.

Hakan Buskhe, Saab’s chief executive officer, was one of the executives in attendance. While there’s no time to drive deal making in these settings, a top-level meeting of this kind indicates a willingness to move forward together, he said in an interview.

Saab is targeting the Indian market for a broad spectrum of business, including Gripen, he said. “What’s spectacular are the possibilities out there,” he said.

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