India wins Italy appeal over helicopter deal

India on Friday partially won an appeal against an Italian court order rejecting its request to recover bank guarantees over a scrapped helicopter deal at the centre of a bribery scandal.

India wins Italy appeal over helicopter deal
Photo: Eric Piermont/AFP

Italian defence and aerospace giant Finmeccanica, which owns helicopter maker AgustaWestland, said the court in Milan had "partially upheld the complaint" from the Indian defence ministry.

The company said in a statement that the court ruling would allow India to encash "an amount of 228 million euros ($311 million) maximum against a call seeking to cash €278 million".

"AgustaWestland will assert its rights to recover the aforesaid amounts in the arbitration process already initiated," it added.

India had cancelled the deal in January to buy 12 luxury helicopters amid allegations that the company paid bribes to win the €556 million contract.

In March, a court in Milan had ruled in favour of AgustaWestland, preventing India from encashing guarantees of more than €278 million.

India had suspended the contract in 2013 after Italian investigators began looking into accusations that AgustaWestland paid bribes to win the contract in 2010.

Italian prosecutors suspect kickbacks worth around 10 percent of the deal — $67.6 million — were paid to Indian officials to swing the deal in favour of AgustaWestland, according to Italian media reports.

The company denies any wrongdoing and the deal is currently under arbitration in India.

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Italian defence firm looks to Leonardo for renaissance

Italian aerospace and defence giant Finmeccanica on Wednesday said it planned to change its name to Leonardo, after celebrated Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci, as part of a major restructuring.

Italian defence firm looks to Leonardo for renaissance
Photo of a portrait of Leonardo da Vinci. Photo: Nico Barbatelli/Wikicommons

The announcement came as the company, which last month agreed to sell its rail and traffic signal businesses to Japan's Hitachi in a $2.0 billion deal,  announced better-than-expected results for 2015.

Finmeccanica said the Hitachi deal would allow it to focus on the core aerospace, defence and security businesses, in line with massive restructuring efforts under a so-called “one company” plan.

“With the execution of the new organisational and operating model as 'One Company'… Finmeccanica has not only redefined its own structure to make it more consistent with customers and markets requirements… but it also aimed to redefine its identity,” the group said in a statement, explaining the need for a new name.

Shareholders will be asked to approve the change at a meeting in April.

In the same statement, Finmeccanica said net profits rose to €527 million ($591 million) last year, up from €20 million the year before.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebita) – a key raw measure of financial performance – came to €1.2 billion, up 23 percent on the previous year.

The group also lowered its net debt by €684 million to €3.278 billion, in part thanks to the sale to Hitachi, it added.

Describing 2015 as “a turning point for Finmeccanica”, the group said it had achieved results “which were higher than expectations”.

Best known for painting the Mona Lisa, Tuscan-born Leonardo (1452-1519) was also a genius inventor and is credited with having first thought of a vertical-flight machine.