France and Belgium Sign MoU to Strengthen Land Defense Cooperation

France and Belgium signed a memorandum of understanding on Monday to strengthen their cooperation in land defence with both countries acquiring each a 10% stake in John Cockerill Defense
French President Emmanuel Macron is welcomed by Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo (L) ahead of a special meeting of the European Council in Brussels, Belgium, 17 April 2024. Belgian King Philippe (Back R) and European Council President Charles Michel (Back L) are seen at the back.
French President Emmanuel Macron is welcomed by Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo (L) ahead of a special meeting of the European Council in Brussels, Belgium, 17 April 2024. Belgian King Philippe (Back R) and European Council President Charles Michel (Back L) are seen at the back. OLIVIER HOSLET/Pool via REUTERS

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - France and Belgium signed a memorandum of understanding on Monday to strengthen their cooperation in land defence with both countries acquiring each a 10% stake in John Cockerill Defense, the defence unit of Belgian equipment maker John Cockerill.

"This equity investment will shortly be formalized and secured by the conclusion of an investment agreement and a shareholders' pact, defining the legal and financial framework of the operation," the company said in a statement.

This deal comes five months after John Cockerill Defense, a supplier of light tank turrets, signed an exclusive agreement with Sweden's Volvo to buy Arquus, France's leading supplier of military vehicles.

"This prospective acquisition would contribute to strengthening the cooperation between France and Belgium in a strategic sector ... the process has been ongoing ever since, and is progressing through the stages necessary to its conclusion," John Cockerill said.

French President Emmanuel Macron and Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo signed the memorandum of understanding on the sidelines of a meeting of European Union leaders in Brussels to discuss whom to nominate to the EU's top posts following a European Parliament election.

(Reporting by Benoit Van Overstraeten; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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