The Italian government has appointed new management at Finmeccanica, the aerospace and defence giant 36.2%-owned by the Italian state. The move came a day after departing president Alberto Lina and chief operating officer Giuseppe Bono announced a Є188 million ($164 million) net profit for the group and the first dividend in nine years.

The new president and chief executive is Pier Francesco Guarguaglini, now chief executive of the state shipbuilding company Fincantieri, which Guarguaglini has prepared for privatisation. Roberto Testore, former chief executive of the automotive division of Fiat, becomes chief operating officer. Guarguaglini will deal with strategic affairs such as alliances, while Testore will be more involved with running the company.

Guarguaglini's appointment was largely unopposed, but the proposal of Testore attracted criticism from other parties in the coalition government, as is time at Fiat coincided with poor results.

Their appointments follow strong results for Finmeccanica. Despite a sharp reduction in the financial contribution of the semiconductor giant STMicroelectronics (STM), in which Finmeccanica has a 19% stake, the group made a net profit of Є188 million, against Є339 million the previous year, on revenues 9% higher at Є6.77 billion. New orders worth Є7 billion were secured in 2001, bringing the orderbook to a new record of Є20.4 billion.

The group has also eliminated its Є636 million of debt, partly by selling 3% of STM, and now has Є409 million net cash. It intends to use this for future purchases, with Finmeccanica interested in acquiring Telespazio, Aermacchi and Marconi Mobile. A further STM sale could be used to finance more acquisitions in Europe and the USA.

Finmeccanica's energy, transport and information technology non-core activities will be sold. All three generated profits in 2001. The aerospace and defence core businesses, which account for 75% of turnover, were also profitable.

Source: Flight International