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NZ company wins $100m US Antarctic deal

12:15 AEST Thu May 31 2012
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A New Zealand company has taken on 25 more staff after winning a $100 million contract with giant American company Lockheed Martin to help look after the US Antarctic programme.

PAE NZ will help Lockheed Martin provide a "cost-effective and streamlined service" at Christchurch, supporting people and equipment, medical facilities, research vessels, and construction projects at remote sites in and around Antarctica, it announced on Thursday.

In December, Lockheed Martin was awarded the $US2 billion ($NZ2.6b) contract to operate and maintain the support infrastructure of the US Antarctic Programme.

The contract is for an initial four-and-a-half years but could be extended to 13 years.

The $100m figure is for the 13-year period.

The contract started at the beginning of April, but was only announced on Thursday because of sensitivities around it, chief executive Philip Orchard told NZ Newswire.

PAE NZ employs about 330 staff and has taken on 25 staff, who had worked with the Antarctic programme under a previous contractor, rising to about 35 staff during the busier summer season.

About 2000 people travel down to the US Antarctic programme each year.

"It's an exciting contract for us and a good addition to our business. We are very pleased," Mr Orchard said.

PAE NZ already provides facilities management and operational support services for the military, local government, education, healthcare, manufacturing, energy and commercial sectors.

It has been operating in New Zealand since 1991.

It is part of the US-based global company Pacific Architects and Engineers, which was a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin until last year, when it was bought by private equity firm Lindsay Goldberg.