French maintenance services firm TAT Industries hopes to announce the purchase of Belgium's Sabena Technics this week at the show. If the deal is finally sealed the new group will become Europe's second-largest independent maintenance provider after Switzerland's SR Technics, says Jean-Luc Fournel, senior vice-president marketing for TAT. The two companies will have combined annual sales of E309 million ($373m).

"It is very complicated because Sabena was state-owned," says Fournel. Sabena Technics has been operating under the protection of Belgian bankruptcy law since parent Sabena went bust in 2001. The strategy of the administrator running the company has been to restructure it and try to restore its fortunes to increase the value of a future sale.

However, in an intensely competitive market, Sabena Technics has lost business, seen revenues fall 14% last year to E125 million and been forced to lay off staff. This has caused the administrator to seek a sale. "They are very interesting for us because of our expansion plan for the narrowbody market, and especially Airbus A320 and Boeing 737NG," says Fournel.

Source: Flight Daily News