Finnish court rejects German arms maker's complaint over rifle order

OSLO (Reuters) - Finland's Market Court has rejected German gun maker Heckler & Koch's complaint over the Finnish government's direct arms purchase from a local manufacturer, according to a ruling on Tuesday.

The German company had accused Finland of breaching competition rules with a ten-year agreement, made jointly with Sweden, to buy assault rifles and other handguns from the Finnish arms maker Sako Ltd, owned by Italy's Beretta.

"The contracting entity did not act in breach of the provisions on defence and security procurement in the manner alleged by the appellant. The appeal must therefore be dismissed," the court wrote.

Finland, which shares a long border with Russia, had argued that a direct purchase from a local gun manufacturer was key to the Nordic country's security of supply.

Both Sweden and Finland joined the NATO military alliance in response to Russia's 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

"Safeguarding the key security interests of the Finnish state has been estimated to require maintaining the national production and maintenance capacity of handguns in Finland under all circumstances," the defence ministry said on Tuesday.

Finland has not revealed how many handguns it intends to acquire under the agreement but altogether it has hundreds of thousands of handguns in storage for its war-time strength of 280,000 troops.

(Reporting by Terje Solsvik, editing by Stine Jacobsen)