Paramount Group, the largest privately-owned defence and aerospace company in Africa announced today that some of the most important countries in South America will shortly begin in-country trials of the company’s advanced armoured vehicles. A procurement decision is expected within months.

The Paramount Group is already in discussion with Latin American governments about its world-class armoured vehicle technology and the selected vehicles will be trialled by both defence forces and internal security forces. The successful outcome of these trials could lead to Paramount Group setting up manufacturing facilities in the region.

The vehicles being trialled are Maverick, an Internal Security vehicles designed for use by police and other Law Enforcement organisations, and the Marauder, an advanced mine protected armoured vehicle. The announcement of the trials came at the start of LAAD, South America’s biggest defence exhibition, held in Rio de Janeiro from the 12-15th April 2011.

John Craig, CEO of Paramount Group, said: "These trials are extremely significant for South Africa and South America as they mark greater collaboration between these two fast-growing economic regions. Paramount Group is a global defence company producing revolutionary armoured vehicle technology and these trials are all part of our aggressive expansion drive into the region. We expect the South American market for armoured vehicles to grow steadily over the next five years.

"As a result of force modernisation and a desire to address long standing internal security issues we are seeing growing defence expenditure across the region. Countries like Brazil, Colombia and Argentina have all announced double-digit increases in spending over the next five years. We believe that our world-leading technology, our enviable track-record and our cost effectiveness provide potential customers with the best value available on the market."

Craig continued: "Paramount Group’s unique manufacturing approach, whereby we locate manufacturing facilities in-country, will allow us to share Africa’s best technology and skills with the engineers and scientists of South America. Technology transfer, better trade links and skills sharing are all positive outcomes of greater co-operation between South America and South Africa."

Paramount’s entry into South America comes at an important and symbolic time for South Africa. The world’s largest developing economies Brazil, China, Russia and India (BRICs) will be holding their third annual meeting during the same week as LAAD and South Africa is being invited to join this select group.

Ivor Ichikowitz, Executive Chairman of the Paramount Group, said: "The world economy is being re-ordered and South America is emerging as a major powerhouse of growth and prosperity. However, it still faces some intractable internal security problems which are preventing it from exploiting its full potential. The reality is that sustainable economic growth requires sustainable security.

"Paramount Group’s presence in Brazil and our entry into Latin America comes at an historic time. Brazil and South Africa represent a new wave of emerging economies and both are important gateways to their continents. There is huge potential for collaboration in defence and aerospace and Paramount Group is proud to be at the forefront of this new age of collaboration."

Ichikowitz continued: "Paramount Group is one of the new breed of African businesses which are helping to diversify economies and stimulate regional economic integration. We believe Latin America offers a solid foundation for doing business in the future and we are keen to become an important industrial player and share our technology with new partners in the region."

Paramount Group is Africa’s largest privately owned defence and aerospace company with global manufacturing facilities and joint ventures with selected partners in Africa, Europe, Asia and elsewhere around the world. The company has experienced more than 20% sales growth year on year over the last five years and nearly doubled its workforce over the last 12 months.

It manufactures flexible, highly versatile IED (improvised explosive devices) and mine protected vehicles, providing customers with some of the most advanced armoured vehicle designs in the world. The very high levels of capability provided by Paramount vehicles are already well known and the company is confident that they will add real value to the defence and law enforcement agencies of Latin America in the maintenance of national security, border control and the rule of law.