Growing doubts about whether Qatar will commit to a landmark order for fighter jets were putting BAE Systems under pressure on Tuesday.
Qatar said it last month signed a letter of intent to buy 24 Eurofighter Typhoons, which sent BAE shares sharply higher. However, a meeting with BAE management led Berenberg analysts to see the order as motivated not by need but by international diplomacy and fostering “political buffers”.
That gives BAE just 12 months to secure the firm commitment from Qatar in time to deliver the jets for the 2022 World Cup, it said.
And, with the long hoped-for order from Saudi Arabia for Typhoon 48 jets looking increasingly unlikely, BAE’s jet exports are likely to halve in 2018, and again in 2019, Berenberg forecast.
The broker also estimated that BAE’s pension fund deficit has swelled to £4bn, from £2.6bn at the last triennial review in 2014, and modelled a near 50 per cent rise in top-up costs to about £400m a year. It moved from “buy” to “hold” on BAE, which closed 1.7 per cent lower at 620p. (end of excerpt)
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(EDITOR’S NOTE: Qatar’s Sept. 17 Letter of Intent to buy 24 Eurofighter Typhoons was totally unexpected and, given that the country already has 36 F-15QA and 24 Dassault Rafale on order to replace the 12 Mirage 2000s that it currently operates, was greeted with some skepticism.
The fact that Berenberg analysts now doubt that a firm order will ever materialize, after a meeting with BAE management clearly implies that the initial skepticism was well founded.)