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Italian Firm Sees Quality of Products Overcoming India Blacklist Threat

July 13, 2016 (Photo Credit: Tiziana Fabi/AFP via Getty Images)

FARNBOROUGH, England — The CEO of Italy’s Leonardo-Finmeccanica has said the quality of his firm’s products may be enough to persuade India to drop plans to blacklist it from future tenders.

“You have to respect the Indian decision, but I think in a patient and clever way we can recreate conditions because we have important systems that India needs, and in every field I hope we can reopen a good relationship with India,” Mauro Moretti told Defense News at the Farnborough International Airshow.

In May, Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar announced Leonardo-Finmeccancia would be blacklisted in India in the wake of allegations it offered bribes to win a €560 million (US $620 million) Indian Air Force helicopter contract in 2010.

At the time, the firm played down the announcement, saying its business was “very marginal” in India, despite fears it would lose a valuable torpedo contract from the country.

Moretti said at Farnborough that he was seeking to win over India.

“We have already showed Indian authorities our commitment to a new era in the relationship, given that we can help a lot in torpedoes, shipping and land systems — and helicopters, too, although not immediately,” he said.

As part of his bid to ward off a blacklisting, he said Leonardo-Finmeccanica was working to improve relationships with Indian firms, as well as with the government.

Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar in May 2016 announced Leonardo-Finmeccancia would be blacklisted in India in the wake of allegations it offered bribes to win a helicopter contract in 2010.
Photo Credit: Mana Vatsyayana/AFP via Getty Images

During an interview with Defense News at the air show, Moretti also discussed the pending T-X trainer bid in the US, which sees his firm’s M-346 trainer being proposed as part of an offer headed by Raytheon.

Asked if he could expect a level playing field in the US for a non-American platform, Moretti said: “Our trainer is considered the best, the Americans know this. I don't know the political influence of the other potential competitors, but the most important advantage is that the 346 is already operational. To build the others they need 5-6 years.”

He also said Italy’s support for the US abroad should play a role in the decision.

“The Americans also have to consider the support of Italy in international missions, particularly Afghanistan,” he said, adding: “Industry could be the tool to maintain this partnership.”

Moretti toyed with the idea of selling the firm’s US electronics unit DRS but is now set on holding onto it, although said he was open to taking on a partner.

“We have to conclude the turnaround of DRS, focusing on the land and naval sector,” he said. “We would like to maintain control, but we are open to industrial or financial partners up to 49 percent in DRS,” he said.

“After the turnaround, now is the time to grow,” he added.

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