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Rheinmetall moving towards order backlog of 30 billion euros - CEO

Armin Papperger, CEO of German defense and automotive group Rheinmetall AG in Duesseldorf

By Sabine Siebold and Anneli Palmen

DUESSELDORF (Reuters) - German arms maker Rheinmetall had a record year in 2022 and is approaching an order backlog of 30 billion euros, CEO Armin Papperger told Reuters in an interview.

"In 2022, we had a very good year, a record year," he said, saying that the fourth quarter would even beat good third quarter results.

"We are approaching an order backlog of 30 billion euros, and I expect to see an order backlog of 40 billion euros next year," said the CEO of the company, which sells a whole range of defence products but is probably most famous for supplying the 120mm gun of the Leopard 2 tank.

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Papperger said he expected to see at least 15% to 20% growth in Rheinmetall's defence division over the coming years, with the civilian business likely to account for only 20% of sales in 2025.

On Tuesday, Papperger had nudged up the group's mid-term sales outlook in anticipation of a windfall from higher defence spending due to the war in Ukraine.

Rheinmetall expects sales to grow to 11 billion-12 billion euros ($12 billion -$13 billion) in 2025, he told German magazine Stern.

The projection is higher than the 10 billion-11 billion euro range Rheinmetall gave during its capital markets day in November. For 2022, the company expects 6.5 billion euros in sales.

Rheinmetall is seen as a strong candidate for moving up into Germany's main stock index DAX.

($1 = 0.9205 euros)

(Reporting by Sabine Siebold; Editing by Angus MacSwan)