Thales Pledges Satellite Site for Canada If Orders Come Through

(Bloomberg) -- Thales SA would build satellite production and research facilities in Canada if it won orders related to two multi-billion dollar local projects, according to Chief Executive Officer Patrice Caine.

“If we are selected, we want to install a space activity here for the long term,” he said in an interview Friday in Montreal. “I’m not talking just about job creation, but transferring technology to Canada. For a country, the real value comes from engineering, R&D and intellectual property.”

The French company’s partly-owned startup Space Inc., which is based in Montreal, is weighing a plan with NorthStar Earth to deploy a constellation of 40 satellites over the next few years. Thales has also teamed up with Italy’s Leonardo SpA and Maxar Technologies Inc. to bid for a contract for hundreds of satellites due to be awarded this year by Ottawa-based Telesat Canada.

Telesat and NorthStar “will be game-changers for us in Canada,’’ Caine said, adding that if satellite orders come through this year, Thales would be ready to ramp up output in the country by the first half of 2020.

Thales is competing for the Telesat order with a rival group led by Airbus SE. Both are “continuing to advance their detailed designs’’ for the complete satellite systems, Telesat said Jan. 24 in a statement. A Telesat spokesman didn’t return a voice mail message Friday seeking clarity on when the satellite contract will be announced.

Airbus Defence and Space has also said it would consider establishing a plant in Canada if it was awarded business.

Thales already has about 1,800 employees in Canada including for its rail signaling and airborne systems R&D. It has about 50 researchers in artificial intelligence based in Montreal. The company plans to add 200 mostly engineers in the country this year.

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