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The GIAT group was founded in 1973 by combining the industrial assets of the technical direction of Army weapons of the French Ministry of Defense. The company was nationalized in 1991. On 22 September 2006 GIAT became the core of the new company Nexter.
For many years GIAT struggled to turn a profit. The company was operated at a loss. A 2001 report by the Cour des Comptes and a 2002 report by the National Assembly described the situation as critical. Not until April 2004 did the board of directors present the public with a financial statement showing a profit of several hundred million Euros. This was mainly due to increased export sales, and the modernization of the Leclerc Main Battle Tank (MBT) and several other armored platforms.