Swedish manufacturer aims to extend global reach by exploiting niche military markets in Asia and USA

Saab is eyeing acquisitions in the USA and Asia as part of its strategy to expand its global footprint in niche military technology areas.

Saab president and chief executive Ake Svensson says US acquisitions "remain of high interest". The potential for an increased presence in the Asian region was discussed at a Saab international advisory board meeting held in Sydney early last week.

Asia also remains a major focus for potential JAS39 Gripen sales. Svensson says "Thailand is the one that we are most focused on right now." Pakistan continues to be regarded as a potential market, but, Saab is still to request a Swedish government export licence for that country. "We realise it is still early days." Saab has a small military presence in the US market, with this focused on camouflage, training and infantry weapons. "To be able to succeed in the US market it has to be in a niche product area where the USA feels that it is not necessary to invest in only-US development in that field. In such a case we have seen that we can win business in the USA."

However, Saab will continue to use co-operation arrangements with existing US companies to pursue possible roles in the US network-centric warfare market.

"We have co-operation partnerships with Boeing on the network centric side, which could of course lead into potential participation from our side in some US developments, but in general I see very few opportunities there [for network-related work]," says Svensson.

Saab has an "evolving" list of 20 takeover targets around the world. "We are more and more shifting our focus over to acquisitions", with the intention of "having a better presence in the marketplace. In the niche product area, if we can by acquisitions come closer to a customer, [then] that would be the way we would work."

The typical target companies feature "niche-orientated products at a lower system level, but with a unique technology edge in some ways". The takeovers are expected to result in the balance of Saab employees shifting to locations outside Sweden "over the coming five to 10 years".

Svensson says work "volumes in Sweden are coming down and we do more and more business on the international side, so the volume should come up there".



Source: Flight International