Italian luxury yacht builder Ferretti, owned by Chinese industrial conglomerate Weichai Group, has created a new unit to build boats for the patrol and defence of international waters, lands and coastlines, it said on Wednesday.
Ferretti Security and Defence (FSD) will design, develop and manufacture defence vessels, target the Middle East and Asian markets, collaborate with other bigger defence companies, and its parent will invest 5 million euros ($5.48 million) in the division this year, Ferretti Chief Executive Alberto Galassi said at the unit's launch in Rome in comments confirmed by a spokesman.
The move comes as countries around the world are beefing up defence budgets to respond to heightened security concerns.
Global defence spending is set to increase to $1.68 trillion this year from $1.65 trillion in 2015, sector research group IHS Jane's said in December, while annual defence spending in the Asia Pacific region
is expected to rise by 23 percent to $533 billion by 2020.
FSD's first patrol vessel, the 20-metre long FSD195, capable of reaching speeds of over 50 knots, is already under construction and is expected to be launched during the summer, the company also said in a statement.
Ferretti, which builds yachts at six yards across Italy, posted turnover, excluding its CRN megayachts division, of 363 million euros last year, up 57 percent on 2014.
Nearly two thirds of that came from the Europe, Middle East and Africa region
, almost a quarter from the Americas
and 18 percent from Asia Pacific.
(Reporting by Agnieszka Flak and Danilo Masoni)