The Italian coalition government has so far failed to agree on a new management team for Finmeccanica, with different parties supporting different candidates for president, chief executive and chief operating officer.

The difficulties thrown up by the management issue are preventing the government from defining a global strategy for the aerospace and defence group and concluding alliance discussions with foreign manufacturers.

The current president Alberto Lina is reported to be leaving Finmeccanica, while chief executive Giuseppe Bono could remain in place. As well as finding a suitable candidate for president, the government also needs to redistribute power between the two top managers to avoid a replay of the current impasse, with Lina and Bono allegedly barely talking to each other.

A favourite candidate for the top position, IBM Italia president Elio Catania, is reported to have declined the offer. Still in the running are Pierfrancesco Guarguaglini, chief executive of the shipbuilding group Finacantieri, and former Alenia Difesa boss; and Giorgio Zappa, Alenia Aeronautica and Alenia Spazio president; and several bankers and industry managers, including former Fiat Auto chief executive Roberto Testore.

The current Finmeccanica managers could remain until their term expires in 2003, but Lina's early replacement is a priority.

The Marconi group has confirmed plans to sell its defence communication and avionics business, centred on Italy-based Marconi Mobile. EADS, BAE Systems and Finmeccanica are reported to have made formal offers. There is also interest in the group's civil activities, and talks have already started with potential buyers. Marconi has valued its defence business at about £400 million ($567 million). The unions representing the Marconi Mobile workers in Italyare already exerting pressure on the Italian government to avoid Marconi Mobile being broken up and sold separately, and to prevent a "foreign" group from takingcontrol of a strategic high technology company which is mainly based in Italy - 3,000 out of the 4,500-strong workforce are employed there.

Source: Flight International