British Maritime Technology, the independent research and technology organisation, has set aside £4m this year for acquisitions, but could spend up to £8m if the right companies are available.
David Goodrich, chairman of BMT, said the group which operates a number of commercial subsidiaries was looking to make acquisitions primarily in the UK to bolster its civilian marine services. ‘I have a thick book of potential acquisitions which I am wading through,’ he said.
BMT is also keen to increase its work with the offshore industry.
The company is on the verge of sealing a deal to acquire a business on the West Coast of the US in an attempt to boost its presence there, Goodrich added.
BMT, which has 550 staff two thirds of whom are professionally qualified doubled its profits to £3m for the year to 30 September 1997 on a turnover up 14% at £33m. It invested £1.5m in research and development.
The group is project leader for European Union research programmes worth 12.1m ECU of which 2.9m stays with BMT. The company operates in five main areas: commercial ships; maritime defence; offshore energy; marine environment and risk and safety.
Goodrich said the company would ‘hang on in South-East Asia’ rather than pull out, although it was ‘not a market for further investment at the moment’.