Emma Kelly/LONDON

SITA plans to secure up to five partnership deals and take-overs this year as it strives to plug holes in its aeronautical portfolio and establish itself as an integrated information and telecommunications solutions provider to the air transport industry.

The deals will be conducted by SITA INC (Information Networking Computing), the Amsterdam-based commercial arm of the aeronautical services company set up last year to spearhead the group's application services, says Jean-Philippe Lallement, vice-president and general manager of SITA's Airline Application Services.

SITA has a "wide and growing portfolio", says Lallement, with activities including data and voice communication, cargo automation, airport information, flight planning, airport communication and network services, and passenger and cargo management solutions. "We have what it takes to deliver value but we realised that we have a few holes," he says. "We're not as integrated as we would like to be. We've grown our portfolio in a piecemeal manner. Our focus now is on delivering solutions as opposed to pieces."

SITA has a "number of deals in the pipeline" which will see it invest "tens of millions of dollars" over the next year to fill the gaps. The group has already taken the first move with last month's acquisition of Northrop Grumman's Advanced Information Technology (AIT) business, which provides integrated self-service kiosk solutions to relieve passenger congestion at airport check-in.

"Today our primary focus is to complement our portfolio and get market share in some areas," says Lallement, adding that one area being targeted is flight operations, a sector of the industry which SITA sees as fragmented. A number of airlines, including Air France, Scandinavian Airlines and Swissair, have their own navigation units, while the former Racal Aeronautical Services, now owned by Thales, also provides flight operations services.

SITA has seen its revenues double in the last five years during which it spun off its Equant division. Lallement says the group is achieving growth of 15-20% per annum, with revenues last year topping $1.57 billion. SITA is also considering an initial public offering for SITA INC over the next three years, says Lallement.

Source: Flight International