Sabena Aerospace and SABCA pioneers in first ecosystem in Belgium’s aerospace industry: “Blueberry”

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The brand-new aerospace group with SABENA AEROSPACE and SABCA as pioneers takes off today. The deal transferring the SABCA shares of Dassault Belgique Aviation (DBA), a subsidiary of Groupe Industriel Marcel Dassault, to the new holding company “BLUEBERRY”, in which SABENA AEROSPACE and the Belgian Federal Holding and Investment Company (SFPI-FPIM) are shareholders, was sealed yesterday. The founding parties are at the cradle of the first Belgian ecosystem that focuses on the sustainable development of the aerospace industry by bringing together forward-looking and high-tech companies.

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© Benoît Denet

Following the completion of the transaction by which DBA, subsidiary of the French aircraft manufacturer Groupe Industriel Marcel Dassault, sold its entire stake (96.85%) in SABCA (Societe Anonyme Belge de Constructions Aeronautiques), SABCA is now owned by Blueberry, a new Belgian holding company the shareholders of which are SABENA AEROSPACE (50,01%) and the Federal Holding and Investment Company (49,99%). The deal received the green light from the competition authorities and was finalised. As regards the remaining 3,15% of the shares of SABCA, Blueberry will launch a mandatory public takeover bid that will eventually result in Blueberry acquiring all shares of SABCA and in SABCA being delisted from Euronext. Blueberry has filed its draft prospectus in relation to the bid with the FSMA.

Unify SABENA AEROSPACE and SABCA, two Belgian players of reference in the aerospace industry, Blueberry will lay the foundations of the first sustainable ecosystem in the sector, strengthening both companies with complementary activities, shared market knowledge and an optimised industrial organisation. SABCA, which specialises in manufacturing high-tech components for the aviation and space industry and in military aircraft MRO (Maintenance Repair and Overhaul), strongly complements SABENA AEROSPACE’s offering, which is an international MRO player supporting passengers and cargo airlines and air forces in the maintenance of their fleets.

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©Benoît Denet

Stephane Burton, CEO of Blueberry and SABENA AEROSPACE tells us more: “It has always been a great ambition to gather companies for the benefit of the greater aerospace industry in Belgium. I am very proud that we succeeded in bringing together SABCA and SABENA AEROSPACE as the two pioneers who will be pulling out all the stops to further develop the ecosystem that will nourish both current and future members of the group. With a combined approach, we can access new market segments, financing and competitive purchasing conditions and pick up a leading role to prepare the industry for the future. The new group aims to be a strategic catalyst for the development of the business of each of its current and future members,”.

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Stephane Burton ©Benoît Denet

This unique vision of the development of the aviation industry as a cluster is in line with the strategy of the Federal Holding and Investment Company.

Tom Feys, Chief Investment Officer of SFPI-FPIM tell us: “SFPI-FPIM, together with SABENA AEROSPACE, is very happy to finalise the acquisition of SABCA, started in summer 2019, which firmly anchors it in Belgium and fit with long term approach of SFPI-FPIM. The aerospace sector is of strategic importance for the Belgian economy, representing close to a hundred thousand direct and indirect jobs, both in services and industrial production. This project reinforces the aerospace ecosystem which remains one of our key investment sectors.”

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Tom Feys ©Benoît Denet

To support and strengthen the commitment and involvement of management and employees at both SABENA AEROSPACE and SABCA, each pillar of the group will be led by its own management team and develop its own business plan. This way, the strategy and approach will remain adapted to the specific characteristics of their core activities.

Thibauld Jongen, CEO of the SABCA Group explains: “The strength of the group lies in its smart diversification and mutual reinforcement. The various, independent activities of the members of the group make us a robust player as a whole. We are active in various markets of the aerospace industry and are able to respond to the changing needs of our customers with our products and services. That makes us more resilient, both in high and low economic conditions. In addition, we are creating opportunities for collaboration, which gives us a competitive advantage in our approach to the market and in the development of our Products and services, combining our own strength with each other’s, while benefiting from Blueberry as an enabler”.

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Thibauld Jongen ©Benoît Denet

This new industrial project comes at a time when the entire aerospace industry is facing major challenges and is looking for ways to deal with the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis. However, the first forecast is that the formation of this new group will be able to mitigate the impact on both SABCA and SABENA AEROSPACE due to its diversification into various segments of the industry with space, military and cargo compensating the reduced activity in civil aviation.

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©Benoît Denet

About Blueberry

Blueberry was incorporated on 17 June 2020 by SABENA AEROSPACE and the Federal Holding and Investment Company. It has 4 sites (Zaventem, Haren, Gosselies and Lummen) active in more than 10 countries (Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Italy, United States, Morocco, Tanzania, Congo RDC, Congo Brazzaville, Zimbabwe & Mauritania). Together they have more than 1200 employees in Belgium and abroad and have a cumulated turnover of 250 M€.

The ambition of Blueberry is to create a unique industrial ecosystem in the aerospace industry through the consolidation of Belgian industrial assets, being resilient through diversity and through the development of new sources of value in high technology, critical niche products and services.

Through its subsidiaries, Blueberry is active in the design, development and manufacture of aviation and aerospace equipment, offers maintenance services for aircraft and brings solutions to drive the sustainable development of the industry as a whole. In doing so, the group addresses its customers business needs from end-to-end.

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©Benoît Denet

Brussels, 19 June 2020

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