Posts Tagged Manroy
Unconfirmed news is that Manroy Engineering is closing its facility in Beckley, East Sussex, and moving those operations to its other facility at Slade Green. There will be redundancies at the Beckley facility. Slade Green is a ‘leafy green suburb’ on the extreme eastern margin of London.
Manroy was purchased by the Belgian arms company Herstal last month. Started as a small operation supplying heavy machine guns to the UK military, Manroy was bought out a few years ago by venture capitalists who planned to expand the company with sales abroad. But their aggressive sales plans were thwarted by declining arms budgets and the Arab Spring, which thwarted the plans of Britain’s new Conservative government to expand arms sales to a range of authoritarian regimes.
Manroy, the British arms company with a manufacturing facility in Beckley, East Sussex has agreed to be purchased by the Belgian arms company Herstal. Manroy’s main products are heavy machine guns and turrets.
Originally a small company selling heavy machine guns to the UK military, a few years ago Manroy was taken over by aggressive new owners who planned large expansion and took the company public. They also purchased a troubled American arms company.
Recently Manroy’s plans had fallen on hard times as arms budgets dropped, but especially as a result of Arab Spring. Before Arab Spring the UK Conservative government had pushed to expand British arms sales to countries previously forbidden, including several repressive regimes. Manroy was attempting to sell arms to Libya’s Gaddafi (with the full support of the UK government) when British policy towards Gaddafi sudden shifted. Quickly following, the government was forced to abandon plans to expand arms sales to many of the repressive regimes it had previously targeted.
Manroy’s ambitious expansion plans were never realised, and the company was eventually put up for sale, culminating in the acquisition by Herstal this week. Conditions of the sale included shearing the American branch from the British company.
It isn’t clear whether the huge Belgian arms company will maintain a presence in the sleep Sussex village of Beckley.
Manroy, the East Sussex machine gun and ammunition manufacturer has won a contract to supply the UK MOD. Manroy will be given £1.6 million to supply parts for the .50 calibre heavy machine guns that it has sold to the MOD.
Manroy has stated that production will begin as soon as production capability permits, before the end of 2011. This suggests the purchase of new equipment, hiring, or plant expansion may be in the offing.
Manroy sells its machine guns to the UK MOD, as well as several other countries including in the Middle East.
Manroy PLC has obtained a 4.1 million contract to supply blank ammunition to the UK MOD. This is an extension of an existing contract and will take the supply relationship to 2016. Apparently the blanks are used in the Heavy Machine Guns already supplied by Manroy to the MOD.
In a controversial move, Saudi Arabia recently sent troops to aid the beleaguered Bahraini dictatorship, and quelled the nascent democratic protest movement.
Saudi Arabia is heavily armed by the US and many other countries, all eager to sell weapons to the Saudi autocrats whose national coffers are swelled with oil money. The UK sells arms to Saudi Arabia, including machine guns. Manroy Engineering of East Sussex has apparently sold heavy machine guns to Saudi Arabia in the past.
Are UK made machine guns or other weapons being used to repress protestors?
With British machine gun maker Manroy poised to expand its operations, and the UK eager to step up exports, Britain will be expanding its role in the misery caused by small arms in conflicts around the world.
One of the biggest problems with small arms is the ‘leakage’ of weapons to a variety of actors from dictatorships and authoritarian regimes, to insurgent groups and criminal gangs. Many small arms are sold to security forces and used to repress their own populations. Small arms are easy to store and don’t quickly become obsolete, so they are often recycled from conflict to conflict.
Some small arms manufacturers actively pursue illegal markets, and in other cases arms sold to ‘legitimate’ customers are redirected to particularly unsavoury markets. Governments are often eager to increase export sales, and drop ethical considerations. The UK Trade and Investment Defence and Security Organisation has put the following countries on its export priority list: Algeria, Australia, Brazil, Brunei, India, Iraq, Japan, Kuwait, Libya, Malaysia, Mexico, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the USA. (Source) Included in these countries are many authoritarian dicatorships, unstable conflict-riven countries, and western countries with a history of intervention in foreign lands. Note that the list was created before we fell out with the authoritarian Quadhafy regime in Libya. The UK government was willing to supply arms to an unstable dictatorship that only a few month later we are at war with.
Small arms are often a high cause of death in conflicts, much greater than public perception. News reports tend to focus on large scale violence and bombings, not the slow dribble of violence that goes on day after day killing large numbers of people unspectacularly and often out of sight. Small arms including machine guns are a significant source of accidental deaths.
The Federation of American Scientists has prepared a good article on the global threat of small arms.
Reuters reports British machine gun maker Manroy Engineering has denied that Libya is the customer for £1.3 million in spare parts that Manroy announced recently to buoy its stock offering on the AIM stock exchange. Manroy has recently sold £6 million worth of M2 heavy machine guns to an unnamed ‘Middle Eastern country’.
While Manroy denies that that country is Libya, it declines to disclose the actual customer, only stating that it does not sell weapons to regimes in the region who are ’embargoed’ by the UK government. From its report of its 2011 Annual General Meeting:
The Board notes the press report on 17 March 2011 concerning the recent turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa. The Board states categorically that the Company has never undertaken any arms sales to Libya or to other embargoed countries in the region. Manroy prides itself as having been a key supplier to the UK MoD for 25 years. Manroy adheres strictly to UK legislation concerning the sale of armaments and weapons to foreign countries and governments. Additionally, where the Company sells any of its products overseas, such sales are undertaken in strict adherence to UK Government export regulations and approvals and are only undertaken after all appropriate UK Government licences have been granted.
Which begs the question ‘Who did they sell them to?’
Certainly Israel is a potential customer, as Israel was in the market for a ‘lighter’ machine gun in 2009, as reported on Israel Military Net blog.
What public interest is served by keeping Manroy’s sales secret?