Engine and equipment manufacturer Snecma is looking for further acquisition or merger opportunities after the signing of its latest deal on 15 June with French industrial holding company Sopartech for the takeover of its Labinal subsidiary.

Snecma president Jean-Paul Béchat says the state-owned manufacturer is "ready to welcome other partners" following the completion of the Labinal purchase.

The recent reorganisation of the company into propulsion and equipment divisions has left it with "an open structure", says Béchat. "This left us perfectly placed for integrating the aeronautical activities of Labinal."

He reveals Snecma was in competition with Rolls-Royce for the acquisition and won "because we had the possibility of making a more global offer".

The operation left Snecma with Turboméca, Microturbo, Globe Moteurs and Cinch Connecteurs, together adding 10,000 employees to the workforce, Fr7 billion ($1 billion) to sales and, through Turboméca's helicopter engine business, a global after-sales network. The purchase included Sopartech's three automotive companies, which are due to be sold to the Valeo group later this year for Fr2 billion.

Béchat is on the look-out for further acquisitions. "People close to our business will be welcome," he says. "There are European [engine] companies smaller than us."

The company has relationships in programmes with Germany's MTU, Italy's Fiat Avio and Sweden's Volvo Aero, although none has confirmed talks with the French manufacturer on a possible takeover. Béchat says the only conditions are that any acquisitions "provide real synergies".

Snecma is the fourth largest engine manufacturer in the world, with sales of Fr31.9 billion in 1999, double the figure for 1996. The company, which made Fr1.7 billion profit last year, has a substantial warchest to fund acquisitions.

Source: Flight International