ROME — Italian defense group Finmeccanica has named Alessandro Pansa as its new CEO and COO following the arrest of CEO Giuseppe Orsi on suspicion of corruption.
After meeting on Wednesday in Rome, the firm’s board of directors decided to confer on Pansa — who was COO of the company — all powers previously held by Orsi, “insuring comprehensive management of the company and the group,” the firm said in a statement.
The board also appointed senior member retired Adm. Guido Venturoni as vice chairman. Orsi had held the title of chairman as well as CEO, but a new chairman has not been named. The firm also said it would hold shareholders’ meetings in April to complete the composition of the board.
Orsi was arrested on Tuesday by Italian police in connection with a probe into suspected bribes paid on a deal to sell 12 AW101 helicopters to India in 2010. He denies the allegations.
Besides Orsi’s arrest, Bruno Spagnolini, head of Finmeccanica helicopter unit AgustaWestland, was placed under house arrest.
Orsi’s arrest follows his bid to restructure Finmeccanica and reduce debt after he took full control of the company in late 2011, which he did after the resignation of then-CEO Pierfrancesco Guarguaglini. A key aspect of Orsi’s strategy was the sell off of 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) worth of assets by the end of 2012 to cut debt. The major part of the cash was due to come from the sale of energy unit Ansaldo Energia, but the plan was hamstrung by political opposition and appeared likely to be put on hold until after Italian elections planned for Feb. 24-25.
Now, with the arrest of Orsi, the likelihood of a rapid sell-off could diminish further.
Pansa served as CFO of Finmeccanica under Guarguaglini before becoming COO under Orsi. The two men reportedly battled for power at the firm, leading to an uneasy relationship.