Italy’s Finmeccanica in Russia helicopter deal

Russian oil giant Rosneft said Wednesday it has reached a deal with Italian group Finmeccanica to produce 160 helicopters in Russia.

Italy's Finmeccanica in Russia helicopter deal
Photo: Eric Piermont/AFP

Finmeccanica's Anglo-Italian subsidiary AgustaWestland will form a joint venture with Russian Helicopters, a unit of public holding company Rostec, to assemble the AW189 helicopters designed for offshore operations.

Rosneft "will be the first client" for these aircraft and plans to buy 160 of them between now and 2025, the group said in a statement.

The deal signed on Monday comes as sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union have slowed or frozen many joint projects between Western multinational companies and Russia.

Both Rosneft and Rostec, two powerful public groups headed by close allies of President Vladimir Putin, have been targeted by the Western sanctions.

The AW189 helicopter, especially adapted for offshore operations including search and rescue missions, can carry 16 passengers and has a flying range of 600 nautical miles (1,111 kilometres).

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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.