REAL ESTATE - French property firm Foncia says it is already close to reaching its 15% growth target for 2006 thanks to an aggressive acquisition strategy that has seen it swallow up smaller French rivals.

The residential real estate manager posted above-target organic growth of 8% and acquisition growth of 13%. This year its overall growth target is 15%. Having already secured 10% through external growth for 2006, the firm needs just 5% to meet its year-end target.

Foncia aims to acquire at least 40 companies annually. Finance director Olivier Froc said: “There are 10,000 smaller property companies in France so there is no shortage of acquisition targets. We buy units and in doing so we buy market share.”

Last year, acquisition finance came largely from cashflow, with just 16% covered by borrowings.

As it released its 2005 results the company also announced that it is to revamp its governance in order to ensure a smooth succession once 58-year-old founder Jacky Lorenzetti steps down. Under the new structure, Lorenzetti will chair an executive board and managing director Francois Lesieur will chair a separate supervisory board.