Rising demand for self-driving, greener cars to fuel Alten's growth

September 21, 2016 10:38 AM EDT

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By Alan Charlish

(Reuters) - France's Alten sees organic growth of 5 to 6 percent in 2016, slightly better than last year, as the consultancy firm benefits from rising demand for technology for autonomous driving and greener cars.

Alten, a technology consulting and engineering company, is working with several carmakers to help them develop software that allows cars to drive themselves as well as solutions to cut emissions.

The company, which provides consultancy services in sectors ranging from aeronautics to healthcare, expects its automotive business, the biggest division, to grow 15 to 20 percent in the next two to three years.

The company is optimistic about the international research and development outsourcing market, Deputy Chief Executive Bruno Benoliel told Reuters in a telephone interview.

"We have indications from our customers, I mean the European ones that they will continue to increase the externalisation, outsourcing because they absolutely need to make productivity gains," he said.

The company is less bullish about the aeronautics business, its second-biggest division. Benoliel, however, still sees the opportunity to grow by at least 5 pct annually over the next two years.

"Within the aerospace sector the main driver for us is Airbus, and as you know Airbus has completely achieved the development of the A350 and A380 planes. So of course the R&D budget has decreased at Airbus," he said.

Benoliel said Alten was confident of achieving a double-digit operating margin on ordinary activities for 2016. It reported revenue of 1.5 billion euros ($1.7 billion) in 2015.

Shares in Alten, which hit a record high earlier on Wednesday, were flat in the afternoon session.

(Reporting by Alan Charlish; editing by Susan Thomas)

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