HEFEI, China (Reuters) - Airbus Helicopters won a commitment from China on Friday to buy 100 H135 helicopters as part of a deal to set up a final assembly line in the country, a fast-growing market for helicopters.
The letter of intent was signed during a visit to China by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and is worth about 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion), according to a source with direct knowledge of the matter.
Airbus Helicopters said the agreement would help it achieve a goal of increasing its civil market share from 40 percent currently in a country which "is becoming the world’s largest market for helicopters".
The Chinese market will need between 3,000 and 5,000 helicopters in the next 20 years, the division of European aerospace and defense company Airbus Group (AIR.PA) said.
The 100 H135 helicopters will be put together at the future Chinese final assembly line over the next 10 years.
The H135 is a light, twin-engine helicopter used in China mainly for emergency medical services and police missions.
($1 = 0.9099 euros)
Reporting by Andreas Rinke, Writing by Fang Yan and Matthew Miller; Editing by Michael Perry, James Regan