Pier Francesco Guarguaglini, chief executive of Alenia Aeronautica parent Finmeccanica, is keen to take complete control of the Toulouse-based ATR joint venture which the two companies founded 25 years ago and of which EADS still owns 50%.

The Alenia head believes the resulting autonomy would have clear benefits for the company's important investment in the Sukhoi Superjet 100 regional jet.

He says: "We are working on a regional jet with the Russians - our intention would be to link up the two initiatives."

The acquisition by Finmeccanica of the 50% of ATR it does not already own is widely seen as a logical next step, laying the ground for ATR to back the Superjet with its powerful marketing and financing capabilities.

"The idea of linking ATR to SSJ is logical, given its experience in after-sales service," says Alenia's senior vice-president strategies and business development Carlo Logli.

Guarguaglini acknowledges that the simplest way for Finmeccanica to bring these to the table would be if Finmeccanica owned 100% of ATR and confirms that discussions are taking place with EADS. Despite the speculation on the possibility of a closer strategic alliance between EADS and Finmeccanica in other areas of their respective businesses, analysts believe that a deal on ATR is a more likely prospect in the short- to medium-term.

Source: Flight International