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Sat 30 Jan 2016 12:52 AM

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UK defence giant appoints new Middle East chief

BAE Systems announces appointment as defence spending in the region slows due to impact of cheap oil

UK defence giant appoints new Middle East chief
Defence

UK-based defence giant BAE Systems has announced the appointment of Mark Simpkins as its new vice president, Middle East, with responsibility for regional operations.

Moving to Bahrain after three years running BAE Systems in New Delhi, Simpkins is charged with evolving the company's business in the Middle East with customers and partners.

The appointment comes amid a slowdown in defence spending in the Middle East as low oil prices are eating into budgets in the Gulf region, one of the world's largest arms markets.

Budgets were trimmed for the first time in a decade last year and deeper cuts are expected in 2016, according to a report published by global intelligence firm IHS last month.

Overall spending fell to $81.6 billion in 2015 from $86.7 billion last year, with spending down in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, while Oman spent only slightly more, IHS said.

Martin Bennett, managing director, Central, BAE Systems, said: "Having worked with Mark previously in Bahrain, I'm very pleased that he is rejoining the team to be based in Bahrain once again. Working closely with me and our colleagues around the region, his appointment strengthens our expertise in the region and demonstrates the importance of the Middle East to BAE Systems."

Simpkins has extensive experience of operating in the Middle East, having previously spent over a decade overseeing projects for Siemens Plessey Defence Systems and Alena Marconi Systems (AMS).

He said: "I am delighted to be returning to the Middle East. The aerospace and engineering sectors are thriving here and I look forward to continuing to strengthen our presence in the region."

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