Vickers plc

Vickers plc

''Please refer to the overview article Vickers for other companies known by this name
Vickers plc was the remainder of Vickers Armstrong Limited after the nationalisation of three of its four operating groups; aviation (as a 50% share since 1960 of British Aircraft Corporation (BAC) in 1977), shipbuilding (Vickers Limited Shipbuilding Group in 1977) and steel.


Automotive Engineering

In 1980 Vickers plc acquired Rolls-Royce Motors. This was not Vickers' first involvement with Rolls-Royce. In 1966 Rolls-Royce Limited (the original aero-engine and motor car company) acquired Bristol Aeroplane for its Bristol Siddeley engine business, but declared it had no interest in Bristol's 20% shareholding in BAC; Vickers Armstrong and English Electric (EE) each having 40% of BAC's shares. Despite this declaration Rolls-Royce had still not disposed of its BAC stake when the former was declared bankrupt in 1971. The 20% share was eventually acquired from receivership by Vickers and GEC (EE's parent company). In 1990 the Cosworth automotive engineering group was purchased. Vickers divested its automotive interests in 1998, selling Cosworth and Rolls-Royce Motors to Volkswagen Group. The disposal of Rolls-Royce was a complicated affair, involving BMW and legal issues surrounding the use of trademarks which were shared with Rolls-Royce plc.


In 1986 Royal Ordnance Factory Leeds (ROF Leeds) was purchased and became the core component of Vickers Defence Systems. These interests were primarily centred around land warfare products and brought the Challenger 1 tank into Vickers' portfolio. Vickers would later develop this into the Challenger 2 tank, the current main battle tank of the British Army and Oman. In 1999 Reumech, owner of OMC, the South African defence company was purchased and renamed as Vickers OMC. In 2004, Vickers OMC was sold to BAE Systems.

Marine Engineering

Vickers was the parent company of the Brown Brothers group who produced marine steering gear and stabilisers. In 1986 it purchased Kamewa a Swedish manufacturer of waterjets, followed in 1998 by Ulstein (Norway), a major marine propulsion and engineering company. The companies were formed up as Vickers Ulstein Marine


Rolls-Royce plc (the post bankruptcy nationalised aero-engine manufacturer) was privatised in 1987 and in a turn-about of affairs, purchased Vickers plc in 1999 for its marine engineering businesses. In 2002, Vickers Defence Systems was purchased by Alvis plc to form the subsidiary Alvis Vickers. In 2003, Rolls Royce renamed its Vickers subsidiaries Vinters plc . The Vickers name lived on in Alvis Vickers. In 2004, the board of the parent group Alvis approved a £309m takeover bid by the American defence company General Dynamics. Within 3 months BAE Systems, which already had a 29% stake in the company, bid £355m for the company. The action was seen as a defence of the home market from a foreign rival. The bid was accepted by the majority of shareholders. In September 2004, BAE announced the creation of BAE Systems Land Systems, a new company bringing together the BAE subsidiaries, RO Defence and Alvis Vickers. This saw the end the famous Vickers name after 176 years. In 2005, the acquisition of United Defense led to the creation of BAE Systems Land and Armaments Group.


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