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GKN is 'a global engineering company' with operations in more than 30 countries.[1]

It was formerly known as Guest, Keen and Nettlefolds and can trace its origins back to 1759 and the birth of the industrial revolution.[2] It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index. Its activities are divided into Automotive and Aerospace businesses. The Aerospace business is comprised of Aerospace Services, a designer and manufacturer of various propulsion systems such as fighter ducts and turbofan cases.[3] In 1998, GKN sold its armoured vehicle division to Alvis Vehicles, retaining a 29.9% stake in Alvis plc and a seat on the board. On August 22nd 2003, GKN sold its stake in Alvis plc to BAE Systems for £73m in cash.

GKN previously held a 50% stake in helicopter manufacturer AgustaWestland, a joint venture with Finmeccanica of Italy. In 2002 some 80% of the revenues of Aerospace Services and AgustaWestland are military-related'.[1] As the GKN 2002 Annual Report states, 'this focus on defence is a significant strength, particularly during the current downturn in civil aerospace'.

In October 2004 GKN sold its 50% stake in AgustaWestland to Finmeccanica.


In 1966, in a programme of diversification, the company acquired Hardy Spicer Limited of Birmingham, England, a manufacturer of constant-velocity joints. Historically, such joints had had few applications, even following the improved design proposed by Alfred H. Rzeppa in 1936. However, in 1959, Alec Issigonis had developed the revolutionary Mini motor car which relied on such joints for its novel front wheel drive technology. The massive expansion in the exploitation of front wheel drive in the 1970s and 1980s led to the acquisition of other similar businesses and a 43% share of the world market by 2002.

During the 1980s, GKN sought to invest its earnings from constant-velocity joints in developing other nascent technologies. However, little success attended these efforts and in 1991 the company resolved to abandon further research and to redivert its development efforts towards its constant-velocity joint business in which it was facing increasing competition from Japan. During the same period, the company finally withdrew from the manufacture of fasteners and from steel production. Changing its name to GKN plc, it diversified into military vehicles, aerospace and industrial services.

In 1994, GKN acquired the helicopter manufacturing business of Westland Aircraft. In 1998 the armoured vehicle business was sold to Alvis plc, and subsequently incorporated into Alvis Vickers Ltd. In July 2000 Finmeccanica and GKN agreed to merge their respective helicopter subsidiaries to form AgustaWestland. In 2004 GKN completed the sale of its 50% shareholding in AgustaWestland to Finmeccanica.

From the late 1990s, the company built a major global business in powder metallurgy, which operates as the GKN Sinter Metals group.

Aerospace Services

Aerospace Services supplies airframe, engine and other components to manufacturers including Boeing, Airbus, Sikorsky, Pratt & Whitney, Rolls-Royce and Lockheed Martin. It is a supplier for aircraft including the Joint Strike Fighter, Eurofighter, SAAB Gripen, F/A-22 Raptor and F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighters; C17 Globemaster 111 and C130J Hercules transporters; and the Comanche helicopter.[4]

Agusta Westland

In 2000, GKN signed an agreement with Finmeccanica SpA to merge the two companies' helicopter divisions in a 50:50 joint venture. The resulting entity, AgustaWestland, operates out of Yeovil in the UK (GKN Westland Helicopters) and Cascina Costa in Italy (Agusta).[5] Westland brought to the partnership Lynx helicopters and a contract for the production of 67 WAH-64 Apache attack helicopters for the UK armed forces (produced under licence from Boeing). Agusta brought with it utility and attack helicopters and a relation-ship with US Bell helicopters. GKN claims that, 'on the basis of reported revenues, AgustaWestland is the world's No.1 helicopter manufacturer.' [1]

At the heart of the joint venture was the EH101 medium-lift military helicopter, in service in Canada, Italy, Japan and the UK.[6] In July 2002, AgustaWestland and Lockheed Martin announced that they had signed a ten-year definitive agreement to jointly market, produce and support a US version of the EH101 for three 'key markets', estimated to represent a requirement of 200 aircraft over ten years.[1] AgustaWestland also has a 32% share of the NH-90 helicopter programme, partnering Eurocopter and Fokker.

AgustaWestland Exports

AgustaWestland has delivered over 7,000 helicopters to more than 80 countries.[7] 400 Lynx helicopters have been sold to the armed forces of 11 countries, with the latest Lynx variant, the Super Lynx 300, having been purchased by Oman, Thailand and South Africa. Though no longer in pro-duction by Westland, the Sea King helicopter has been exported to Australia, Egypt, Germany, India, Norway, Pakistan and Qatar, and the Wasp has been sold to Indonesia and New Zealand. The AB412 military utility heli-copter, one of a long line of helicopters produced by Agusta under licence from Bell, is in service in Bahrain, Ghana, Italy, Lesotho, Sweden, UAE, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

In early 2002 AgustaWestland signed a deal with Denel of South Africa for the licensed production of the A109 heli-copter. Denel will be allowed to market and sell the A109 to specified markets in Africa, South East Asia and the Middle East.[8] http://www.gknplc.com/

In October 2004 GKN sold its 50% stake in AgustaWestland to Finmeccanica.

Lobbying firms

Former lobbying firms

Further reading


Unless otherwise indicated, world ranking (by military sales), military sales and military sales percentage are sourced from Defense News (21.7.03) and refer to 2002

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 GKN plc Annual Report 2002. Includes subsidiaries and joint ventures
  2. GKN plc Annual Report 2002
  3. http://www.gknplc.com/default.asp?section=businesses, accessed 13.08.03
  4. http://www.gknplc.com/default.asp?section=aerospace, accessed 15.08.03; GKN Annual Report 2002
  5. http://www.gknplc.com/businesses/aerospace/agusta/main.asp, accessed 13.08.03
  6. http://www.gknplc.com/businesses/aerospace/agusta/main.asp, accessed 15.08.03
  7. http://www.gknplc.com/default.asp?section=aerospace, accessed 15.08.03
  8. http://www.caat.org.uk/information/publications/companies/gkn.php, accessed 15.08.03
  9. Register for 1st March 2014 - 31st May 2014, APPC, accessed 29 January 2015