Denel ‘ripe’ for joint venture partnerships – Ramaphosa

South Africa’s struggling state-owned arms firm Denel is “ripe” for joint venture partnerships, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Thursday, adding his country would want to retain control if any deal went ahead.

Ramaphosa said he hadn’t yet applied his mind to a bid for Denel by Saudi Arabia, or any of the other bids for the loss-making firm which makes military kit for the South African armed forces and clients in Africa, the Persian Gulf and Europe.

Saudi Arabia recently approached South Africa about an equity stake or partnership deals with Denel.

“It is one of those entities that is ripe for joint venture partnerships, where we would bring in an equity player with financial resources, new technology and so forth,” he told reporters in Johannesburg.

“South Africa would obviously want to retain control.”

Ramaphosa said there was a lot of intellectual property vested in Denel. The firm has patents for many of the weapons, ammunition and vehicles which it manufactures.

“There have been quite a lot of suitors, a number of countries and companies which are looking at Denel,” he said, adding that Denel has been going through quite a number of proposals from suitors.

“There are a variety of considerations which we need to take into account. Right now we haven’t really sat down to apply our minds on the Saudi bid, nor have we applied our mind on any of the bids in the air,” Ramaphosa said.

He added that it was still work in progress.

“I’m not able to say definitively what the outcome of all this will be,” he said.

The arms producer has said it was working on a turnaround plan that would involve cost-cutting and exploring joint ventures after posting a loss.