ROME — In a surprise pick, Italian shipyard Fincantieri has hired veteran aerospace manager Giuseppe Giordo – who has built his career selling military aircraft – to head up its naval business unit.

The Italian manager will now oversee collaboration with Fincantieri’s regular partner on warship production, Leonardo – the Italian firm where Giordo spent most of his career and was tipped to become CEO before he was pipped to the post and released during a massive cull of managers in 2015.

As Fincantieri seeks to build its naval business and works on its fledgling joint venture with France’s Naval Group, Giordo will bring to the fray his “consolidated, strong and long-term relationships with main industry players,” Fincantieri said in a statement.

Giordo’s entrance into the warship business is the latest step in a three-decade career which started when he joined Leonardo, then known as Finmeccanica, as a young graduate. He rose to become head of the U.S. operation of the firm’s Alenia unit, before becoming boss of the amalgam of Alenia and fellow unit Aermacchi, overseeing the sales of the C-27J cargo aircraft to the United States and the sale of M-346 trainers to customers including Israel.

Fincantieri has tapped Guiseppe Giordo to head its naval business unit. (Fincantieri photo)
Fincantieri has tapped Guiseppe Giordo to head its naval business unit. (Fincantieri photo)

He was also involved in talks to sell the Eurofighter to Kuwait. That gave him a shot as contender to take over state-controlled Finmeccanica in 2015 when the job became vacant, only to see the role given to outsider Mauro Moretti, who turned the firm from a collection of companies into a single entity and released dozens of managers in the process, including Giordo.

In 2016 Giordo was hired as CEO of Czech firm Aero Vodochody, where he marketed the firm’s L-39 New Generation trainer as a competitor to Aermacchi aircraft, while in 2018 he also took on a role as advisor to the Saudi Arabian government on building up its defense industry.

Giordo’s appointment at Fincantieri follows a few tense moments between the shipyard and his old employer Leonardo, which has demanded a more central role in the Fincantieri-Naval Group alliance, given it supplies combat systems to Fincantieri ships.

In 2018 Fincantieri CEO Giuseppe Bono, himself a former boss of Leonardo, tried to buy Italian electronics firm Vitrociset, only for Leonardo to snap it up first.

Giordo’s appointment follows the April retirement of Angelo Fusco as head of the naval business unit.