Reuters July 22: Finmeccanica chairman probed over slush funds (posted on Hawai’i Free Press July 26)
ROME, July 22 (Reuters) - Pier Francesco Guarguaglini, chairman of defense and aerospace group Finmeccanica (Parent Company of Honolulu Rail Contractor Ansaldo), has been put under investigation by Rome prosecutors examining allegations of secret slush funds, legal sources said on Friday.
The investigation, part of a long-running case involving Finmeccanica, centers on allegations that false invoices were created by companies controlled by the group. They are then said to have been used to pay secret commissions….
…La Repubblica daily said the alleged slush funds were set up through a company called Selex and were used to pay commissions to former consultant Lorenzo Cola, in connection with the 2008 acquisition of U.S. defence group DRS Technologies.
Cola was arrested last year on charges of involvement in money laundering following a probe into Digint, a group 49 percent owned by Finmeccanica.
Digint was investigated for possible links with businessman Gennaro Mokbel, who was also arrested last year on suspicion of money laundering.
Finmeccanica said on Friday that all the payments it made to Cola were registered normally in its accounts….
WSJ July 28: New Finmeccanica Boss Pledges To Clean Up Group's Act
MILAN (Dow Jones)--Finmeccanica SpA's (FNC.MI) new boss pledged Thursday to improve the Italian defense and aerospace group's poor performance by accelerating the pace of its restructuring in an attempt to ease investor concerns about its profitability.
Speaking to analysts after the group's weaker results and outlook sent its stock down more than 17%, Chief Executive Giuseppe Orsi said one of his priorities was to resolve problems hampering two of the group's myriad of divisions: aeronautics and transportation.
Orsi, who has spent his time reviewing the group's divisions since taking the job in May, raised the possibility of a sale of the transportation division, which was described by one analyst at the London presentation as a "waste of time" because of the billion of euros it has lost over the years. The division, AnsaldoBreda, makes trams, trains and subways.
Orsi dismissed the idea of shutting down the division, saying it only needed to find the right partner once its managerial and organizational problems were resolved. Its staff and its products were fine, he added.
Oris said he wanted to increase transparency at Finmeccanica, which is 30% owned by the Italian state, and to hold the heads of each division more accountable.
"If they don't deliver, they go," he said.
He said he would need time to work out solutions to problems like production overlaps and other costly inefficiencies before reporting back to the investment community in the fourth quarter.
Chief Financial Officer Alessandro Pansa referred to the sale of a 45% stake in energy division Ansaldo Energia to a U.S. specialist fund as the model to follow in deciding the future of other divisions, AnsaldoBreda in particular.
Bloomberg July 29: Finmeccanica Default Swaps Extend Surge to 31-Month High
Finmeccanica shares slumped yesterday after its aeronautics and transport units faced “certain structural problems” and will give new guidance on earnings in the fourth quarter after assessing results from restructuring programs. The company cut its 2011 revenue outlook to between 17.5 billion euros and 18 billion euros….
Finmeccanica’s new Chief Executive Officer Giuseppe Orsi said he will “accelerate” the restructuring program and exit commercially unviable products. The company may decide to sell its AnsaldoBreda train-making unit if it doesn’t succeed in restructuring it by year-end….
Star-Advertiser July 30: Trouble nags city rail bid winner: Financial and managerial problems beset Ansaldo Honolulu's parent firm
Alessandro Pansa, Finmeccanica's chief operating officer and chief financial officer, said in the presentation that AnsaldoBreda has "at least three or four main contracts" with "significant problems." The value of the contracts might be up to 500 million euros, or $718 million, Pansa said.
An analyst at the presentation described AnsaldoBreda as a "complete and utter waste of time" that's "racked up losses and provisions," and asked Orsi why he has not shut down the company….
…City Council member Breene Harimoto, chairman of the Council's Transportation Committee, told the Star-Advertiser that AnsaldoBreda's restructuring is a concern.
"I think time will tell," Harimoto said. "We'll need to see if they really do sell it and, if they do, what the new owner's plans are." ….
Finmeccanica's planned restructuring and the appeals process only add to evidence that the contract should be re-examined, said Panos Prevedouros, a University of Hawaii civil engineering professor and a rail critic.
"We have not committed anything. We're still in the paperwork phase," Prevedouros said. No contract has been signed since the procurement process has been stalled due to the appeals.
"Now is the right time for them to make the right steps."
Finmeccanica 07.27.2011 Half-Year financial report at 30 June 2011
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