BBA announces £300m aviation acquisition plan

Diversified engineering group BBA remains on the acquisition trail and is looking for opportunities in the aviation sector. Speaking after unveiling a 6% rise in half-year profits on Tuesday, chief executive Roberto Quarta said he had £300m-400m to fund the right deals. BBA said its strong cash-flow and financial position gave it the necessary muscle […]

Diversified engineering group BBA remains on the acquisition trail and is looking for opportunities in the aviation sector.

Speaking after unveiling a 6% rise in half-year profits on Tuesday, chief executive Roberto Quarta said he had £300m-400m to fund the right deals.

BBA said its strong cash-flow and financial position gave it the necessary muscle to advance into new capital projects and selective acquisitions. `But like everything else, it is a matter of value and timing,’ he said.

BBA’s operations span aircraft servicing, brake pads and materials technology. The group has invested over £1bn in its recent refocusing programme.

The aircraft business was boosted by the acquisition of AMR Combs, which brought it new customers and bases in Mexico, the US and Hong Kong. The aviation business produced overall operating margins of 12.8%, up on last year.

Group margins fell, however, from 14.3% to 14.1% before goodwill amortisation. Quarta said the slightly lower figure on continuing operations reflected below-average margins at Veratec, acquired in the second half of last year, but he said these should improve once the business is fully integrated.

Pre-tax profits were up 9% to £91.6m from £83.9m. The half-year figures also included a 6% increase in organic sales, in line with the stated target. Future growth will continue to be underpinned by capital expenditure, which rose from £45m in 1996 to the £135m earmarked for this year.

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