Dubai Aerospace Enterprise's (DAE) promise to become a global player in maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) has taken just six months, with its involvement in a consortium acquiring Europe's biggest independent MRO house SR Technics.

The move provides a platform for the Zurich-based operator to boost its penetration in the emerging markets of China, India and the Middle East, says SR Technics chairman Frank Turner. The consortium is buying around 90% of SR Technics' stock. Of that, Abu Dhabi government investment arm Mubadala is taking 40% and DAE and Dubai-based investment house Istithmar 30% each. SR Technics' management will hold the remainder.

Although SR Technics - formed from the defunct SAir Group in 2002 - will retain its brand and independence, it will become effectively the maintenance arm of DAE. MRO was one of six sectors DAE pledged to serve when it was launched in February. Others included aircraft leasing, airport development and training. "SR Technics is the MRO strategy of DAE. We are now the MRO technical services provider of DAE," says Turner, who remains chairman.

Under the DAE umbrella, SR Technics - which had been planning an initial public offering - will "reposition ourselves around the world to be a truly global player", says Turner. He confirms the company is "looking at opportunities in India and China", as well as "modest" growth in the USA.

But Turner is adamant that the company will maintain independence: "I would not remain as chairman if I didn't think this consortium would allow me to manage the business in the way we have been since 2002," he says.

Turner says SR Technics' plans to open a maintenance operation in Muscat, Oman to serve Gulf Air, will not be affected by the deal. But he says the shortage of facilities in the region may prompt it to open a site at Dubai's planned Jebel Ali airport.

Turner does not rule out a partnership with Abu Dhabi-owned Gamco, whose Gulf Air maintenance work it took over this year, after the Abu Dhabi government pulled out of the carrier.

Source: Flight International