A change of Italian Government and other issues could push signing to late September

Finmeccanica and EADS have been forced to delay the signing of their agreement to form a European military aircraft joint venture until at least late September to allow time for the new Italian government to look at the deal.

If the latest timetable can be met, the joint venture should become operational on 1 January 2002 - a year later than originally planned.

"We are going through a comprehensive negotiation," says Finmeccanica senior vice president business development Alberto de Benedictis. "My belief is that the hurdles at this stage are not very significant. I am fairly optimistic we can achieve [an agreement] by the end of September," he adds.

EADS declines to comment on the progress of the talks.

De Benedictis says Finmeccanica is still in "preliminary discussions" over the possible acquisition of the 75% of Aermacchi it does not already own, though this is "not in any way conditional to the joint venture deal with EADS".

Inclusion of Aermacchi would pose a difficult decision for the new entity as it struggles to reconcile the differing trainer product lines of EADS with the all new Mako trainer and the Italian company's M346. Part of the joint venture discussions are focused on how to combine the Airbus civil aircraft aerostructures work carried out by the EADS military factories with the Boeing work performed by Finmeccanica subsidiary Alenia.


This airliner work "goes into the joint venture entirely" says de Benedictis. He adds that the partners are "very aware of any competitive issues that Boeing might have" and are confident of overcoming potential problems.

Finmeccanica continues to negotiate with Airbus over taking a risk-sharing stake of around 8% in the A380 programme. It also has an option to acquire a 5% stake in Airbus itself but does not have to make a decision on this until 2004.

Source: Flight International