MILAN (Reuters) - Italy's Leonardo aims to sign more cyber security deals with European institutions after winning a digital contract with the European Parliament, the head of the defence group's cyber division said.
Leonardo's cyber business, which already counts the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) among its clients, has recently pursued alliances with other groups to widen its range of services, and may also explore M&A, the unit's chief Tommaso Profeta told Reuters in a phone interview.
In a sector UBS expects to see high single-digit percentage growth in revenues in the next few years, state-controlled Leonardo aims to grab deals on the basis of its traditional ties with governments and institutions, he added.
"We aim to increase our presence as a preferred partner of the European institutions," Profeta said.
Brussels is planning to invest more than 1.6 billion euros in cyber security infrastructure as a part of its Digital Europe Programme for the 2021-2027 period.
Leonardo and contract partner Cronos International, a Belgian IT firm, recently won an 85 million euro ($101 million), six-year deal to provide services for the European Parliament's information and communications infrastructure.
That followed another deal it signed to provide security features for the new Entry/Exit System (EES), an automated platform for registering travellers from third countries each time they cross an EU external border.
EU law enforcement agency Europol and border body Frontex will be among the users of the EES, Profeta said.
"Currently around 60% of our clients are governments or institutions, while the remaining 40% are private," said Profeta.
He said he did not expect those proportions to change dramatically in the near future even if Leonardo is currently adding large companies to its list of private clients.
Leonardo CEO Alessandro Profumo has recently said the group could use part of the proceeds coming from a share listing of its DRS unit for acquisitions.
"I do not exclude M&A activity in the future to increase market share in cyber," Profeta said, without elaborating.
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(Reporting by Francesca Landini; Editing by Jan Harvey)