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France's TAT Group To Divest Sabena Technics

The acquisition by a consortium of private equity firms is expected to be finalized in the second quarter of 2019, subject to regulatory approvals.

LONDON – A consortium of private equity firms will acquire the majority of French maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) provider Sabena Technics from TAT Group for an undisclosed sum.

Sabena Technics announced Dec. 17 that TAT Group had entered into exclusive negotiations with Sagard, Bpifrance and TowerBrook to sell its majority interest in the MRO specialist. The acquisition is expected to be finalized in the second quarter of 2019, subject to regulatory approvals.

TAT Group acquired Sabena Technics, the maintenance division of former Belgian airline Sabena, in 2005. The French group later sold Sabena Technics' U.S. subsidiary, Barfield, to Air France Industries KLM Engineering & Maintenance, before divesting its Belgian arm, Sabena Technics Brussels, via a management buyout transaction in 2014.

Sabena Technics is aiming to increase revenue to €600 million ($683 million) in 2021 from about €400 million in 2016 . It said the change in shareholding would be "an important step" toward realizing that goal, and would provide the group with "significant resources to expand its offer through external growth."

Under TAT Group's ownership, Sabena Technics said revenue had increased by more than 40% between 2012 and 2018.

TAT Group will remain a minority shareholder following the acquisition and its current chairman, Rodolphe Marchais – who is also CEO at Sabena Technics – will assume the presidency of Sabena Technics' advisory board. The MRO firm's chief operating officer, Philippe Rochet, will be promoted to CEO.

Rochet's ambition, said Sabena Technics, is to strengthen its global position "as an independent leader in the aircraft maintenance and modification market."

Sabena Technics recently opened a painting facility in Toulouse for Airbus aircraft, as well as an ATR and Airbus aircraft component repair facility, in partnership with Air France.

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