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Thales Said to Hold Talks to Buy Amper’s Defense JV Stake

March 14 (Bloomberg) -- Thales SA, the French maker of defense electronics, is in talks to buy the stake in a joint venture with Spain’s Amper SA that it doesn’t already own, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Thales is considering a purchase of Amper’s 51 percent stake in Amper Programas, said the people, asking not to be identified because the deliberations are private. Spokesmen at Thales and Amper declined to comment.

Amper, an unprofitable manufacturer of communications and military equipment, is selling assets as it seeks to refinance debt. The Madrid-based company is in talks with lenders and has a standstill accord with banks until April 18. In November, Amper sold Epicom, which designs encrypted communication systems, to Duro Felguera SA for 4.6 million euros ($6.38 billion).

The venture with Thales makes radio communications equipment for the military and employs more than 300 people.

Amper Programas has been hurt by the loss of its main contract, after Emiraje Systems said last year that the United Arab Emirates army would cancel a contract to purchase a military system. Sales at Amper’s defense unit dropped in 2013 to 21.7 million euros as orders plunged.

Amper shares fell 2.8 percent to 1.06 euros at 3:10 p.m in Madrid. The stock has dropped 35 percent in the past 12 months. Thales shares fell 0.1 percent to 46.96 euros.

To contact the reporters on this story: Manuel Baigorri in Madrid at mbaigorri@bloomberg.net; Esteban Duarte in Madrid at eduarterubia@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Aaron Kirchfeld at akirchfeld@bloomberg.net; Alan Crawford at acrawford6@bloomberg.net Benedikt Kammel, Robert Valpuesta

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