Finmeccanica Set on Keeping Its Avio Stake

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  Space News Business

Finmeccanica Set on Keeping Its Avio Stake

By PETER B. de SELDING
Space News Staff Writer
posted: 10 August 2006
11:37 am ET


Italy’s Finmeccanica will seek to maintain an ownership stake in aerospace-propulsion specialist Avio S.P.A. even if Avio’s majority owner, the Carlyle private-equity investment company, succeeds in selling its Avio shares, Rome-based Finmeccanica said.

Avio is a major component builder for Europe’s Ariane 5 vehicle and also majority owner of ELV S.p.A., which is managing development of the Vega small-satellite launcher.

Finmeccanica owns 30 percent of Avio and Carlyle, 70 percent. In a July 31 statement, Finmeccanica said that ongoing Carlyle negotiations to sell its majority share of the company does not mean Finmeccanica also is looking to cash in its Avio stake.

Finmeccanica, which also owns a 33 percent share of satellite builder Alcatel Alenia Space, said it wants to keep at least some equity in Avio “even following any change to [Avio’s] shareholder structure,” the statement said.

Finmeccanica said its board of directors has given company Chairman Pier Francesco Guarguaglini permission to “agree to the terms of a deal should a suitable opportunity arise.”

Carlyle and Finmeccanica teamed in September 2003 to purchase 100 percent of Avio from owner Fiat for 1.6 billion euros, or about $2 billion at today’s exchange rates. Avio reported 1.28 billion euros in 2005 revenue.

Avio owns 70 percent of ELV, with the Italian Space Agency owning the remaining 30 percent; 60 percent of Regulus and 50 percent of Europropulsion, Ariane 5 rocket-propulsion suppliers; 6 percent of the Arianespace commercial-launch consortium; and 5 percent of Cira, Italy’s aerospace research center.

Comments: pdeselding@compuserve.com