Sunday, 5 October 2008

Business of war

March 2003 Secret MoD files to be handed over to private sector. TNT, the distribution company, and US property firm Prologis Developments will win 25-year contract in an announcement expected this week. They will close the MoD file storage centre in Hayes, west London, move staff to the North of England and computerise the records. The Hayes centre also handles files for the Home Office, the Metropolitan Police and magistrates' courts. This is one of the most controversial privatisations so far. Unions say the state should safeguard its own secrets.

February 2003 Serco, the services firm, plans to move almost 600 former MoD staff working for a specially created subsidiary to a tax haven to avoid paying national insurance. Serco won the War Support Agency contract in 1996.

January 2003 The Government sells 35 per cent stake in Qinetiq, the British defence research laboratories, to Carlyle, a US private equity firm which is to manage the former state-run firm. The deal values it at £500m, but the Government gets just £42m in cash.

November 2002 Banks in a PFI project make £25m windfall from £750m revamp of MoD's London HQ by refinancing £500m loan at a cheaper rate.

September 2002 Defence chiefs consider £13bn plan to provide 20 Airbus A330s. It could mean RAF pilots flying tourists to holiday destinations.

September 2002 Jobs of 1,500 naval support staff privatised. Staff at Faslane base on the Clyde now work for Babcock Naval Services. Similar deals now expected at Portsmouth and Devonport.

1998 Colchester garrison PFI scheme launched to rehouse 3,500 soldiers. Four years later not one brick has been laid and millions have vanished in fees.

March 1997 Venture capitalist Cinven pays £74m for Defence Support Services Division, which runs the MoD police and guards 70 sensitive sites, including the germ and chemical warfare research centre at Porton Down, Wiltshire.

November 1996 Annington Homes, a financial consortium led by Japanese bank Nomura, takes over nearly 60,000 MoD homes for £l.5bn. Nomura later reaped £600m profit.

April 1987 Royal Ordnance's 15 factories sold to British Aerospace for £150m, killing thousands of jobs and leading to the SA-80 rifle fiasco

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