Mauro Moretti is the new CEO of Finmeccanica. (Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)
ROME — As part of a management reshuffle involving Italy’s large state-controlled firms, the Italian government appointed Mauro Moretti as the new CEO of Finmeccanica on Monday, replacing Alessandro Pansa, who has been CEO since February 2013.
Moretti, 61, moves from Italy’s state railway company, Ferrovie dello Stato, where he was credited with pushing the group into profit as he introduced fast new connections between major cities like Rome, Milan and Turin.
Moretti is a newcomer to the aerospace and defense industry, having worked his way up through Ferrovie dello Stato since he joined it in 1977. Born in Rimini, on Italy’s Adriatic coast, he graduated in electrical engineering from Bologna University.
Moretti made headlines in Italy last month when he balked at criticism of his €850,000 (US $1.2 million) wage packet, following moves by the Italian government to trim the salaries of high-flying state managers. If handed a wage cut, he said he would consider leaving his job.
Gianni De Gennaro, who was appointed chairman of Finmeccanica in July 2013 and is formerly Italy’s top policeman, stays on in his post.
The appointments have been ordered by Matteo Renzi, Italy’s prime minister, who took office in February after ousting Enrico Letta in a party coup. Renzi, 39, has built his reputation on bringing fresh blood into government as well as promoting women. On Monday he named women as the new chairmen of three state utilities.
Moretti’s appointment, however, appears more like a reshuffling of management chairs than a clean sweep, given that Moretti is 61 and is switching from one state firm to another.
Moreover, even though Pansa’s mandate was officially coming to an end, he had only been CEO for 14 months and was only now getting up to speed on a restructuring and transparency drive, following the arrest of previous CEO Giuseppe Orsi, who is on trial accused of overseeing the offering of bribes to Indian officials to buy the AW101 helicopter.
However, Pansa is undeniably a veteran at Finmeccanica, having served as CFO prior to becoming CEO, signing off on balance sheets during the years in which Pierfrancesco Guarguaglini oversaw both growth and debt accumulation at the firm.
Analysts who criticized a lack of transparency at Finmeccanica under Guarguaglini were not overly impressed when Pansa took over the reins, but he has stressed ethical governance since his appointment.
Furthermore, doubts about stability at Finmeccanica may now arise as the group gets its fourth CEO in about two and a half years.
After Guarguaglini, Orsi and Pansa, Moretti is also the first CEO to come from outside the sector and he will require time to get up to speed, just as Finmeccanica struggles to compete in shrinking markets. He will also arrive in the wake of a centralization drive started by Pansa, which is due to hand more power to the CEO over Finmecanica’s units.
Government officials may have decided against promoting from within Finmeccanica due to the number of corruption probes into the firm. While Orsi’s trial for the India helicopter deal continues, Italy’s sale of helicopters and satellites to Panama is also due to be the subject of a corruption trial.
During his months of the job, Pansa fought hard to sell off Finmeccanica’s loss-making and inefficient railway unit, Ansaldo Breda. Analysts will be keen to see what Moretti does with the unit, having spent his career working in the Italian rail system. ■