KMW and Nexter complete Franco-German tank deal

BERLIN (Reuters) - A merger between German armored vehicles maker KMW and its French counterpart Nexter has been completed, the companies said in a joint statement on Tuesday, following more than a year of talks on a tie-up.

French financial daily Les Echos reported on Sunday that the deal might be scuppered due to a dispute over the appointment of a new joint chief executive.

However, the companies confirmed in the statement that the manufacturers had come together under a Dutch-incorporated holding company.

The merger of state-controlled Nexter Systems and privately-held Krauss-Maffei Wegmann GmbH & Co KG combines the Leclerc and Leopard tank brands in what could be a blueprint for more European defense consolidation.

KMW and Nexter each employ more than 3,000 people worldwide. KMW supplies wheeled and tracked fighting vehicles to 30 nations and expects sales of 2 billion euros ($2.2 billion) in 2016, while Nexter is a maker of systems, ammunition and equipment with sales of 1.05 billion euros last year.

Reporting by Ralf Bode; Writing by David Stamp; Editing by Louise Heavens