Gloucestershire company to buy leading global AI firm for €220 million

A Staverton-based aircraft technology firm has announced it has entered into exclusive discussions to acquire a globally leading artificial intelligence firm for an enterprise value of €220 million.

By Sarah Kent  |  Published
Gloucestershire-based Safran hopes the aquisition of the French AI firm will add state-of-the-art artificial intelligence capabilities to its product offering.

The Staverton-based Safran, an aircraft technology company that works closely with the Ministry of Defence, has announced that it is set to buy Preligens, a cutting-edge artificial intelligence firm that specialises in innovative aerospace and defence systems.

Safran is looking to acquire 100 per cent of the French-headquartered AI firm for an enterprise value of €220 million, which provides 'field-proven AI analytics solutions for high-end imagery, full motion video and acoustic signals'.

Safran says this acquisition gives it a unique opportunity to 'add state-of-the-art AI capabilities to its product offering' and to introduce the technology to the US aerospace and defence market, too.

Preligens' technology is described as developing 'complex algorithms and software to analyse and automatically detect and identify objects of military interest notably using commercial and government satellite images'.

Currently headquartered in Paris, Preligens recorded sales of €28 million in 2023 and employs around 220 staff, with 140 of those listed as engineers working in its extensive research and development department. 

Olivier Andriès, Safran's CEO, said: 'The proposed acquisition of Preligens will boost the adoption of AI within the group, thus optimising our agility and efficiency.

'With multiple applications, it will represent a step-change for our defence and space technology businesses and will also allow us to deploy AI-enabled digital inspection methods to support our focus on flight safety and quality.'

Jean-Yves Courtois, CEO of Preligens, added: 'In 8 years, Preligens has become a recognised leader in its field. We are thrilled at the potential to boost our business in the USA, to define jointly innovative AI-powered applications and to pioneer Industry 4.0 AI technologies.

'The proposed acquisition will open a new chapter in Preligens’ success story, with more opportunities for our employees to learn, grow and excel.'

Safran expects to close the deal in autumn 2024.

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