ABU DHABI — Finmeccanica UK boss Alberto de Benedictis has become the latest victim of a clear out of top executives by the Italian company's Chief Executive Mauro Moretti.
De Benedictis departed his London post at the end of last week as part of Moretti's restructuring of the Italian defense giant, an industry source said.
His departure, which has yet to be announced officially, will deprive the British defense industry of one its most highly regarded managers, said rival company executives and senior Ministry of Defence officials.
De Benedictis arrived in London as chief executive in 2005, taking control of a business that now has revenues in excess of £2 billion a year, employs 8,500 people and encompasses products ranging from helicopters at AgustaWestland to avionics and radars at Selex ES.
A Finmeccanica spokesperson declined to comment on the departure.
The executive's sudden exit from Finmeccanica after a career with the company spanning more than 30 years has caught many rival bosses in the UK by surprise.
De Benedictis' departure became apparent externally when he failed to show at a meeting on Monday of top UK company managers and lobby groups who form the Defence Industries Council, an industry executive said.
Starting his career as an economist at the World Bank in Washington, De Benedictis joined Finmeccanica's office in New York in 1983 and since then has held a number of increasingly senior posts in Italy and the US before taking over the company's expanding British business.
The departure is part of a radical plan by Moretti to restructure the ailing Italian defense giant, which has so far shed around 50 senior managers since he took over the firm in April 2014.
The rationalization has also seen the firm dump around 100 board members of group units, as the operations undergo a transformation from companies to divisions.
For the moment, it's unclear whether the departure of De Benedictis is an isolated move or the start of a wider revamping of the Italian company's activities in the UK.
Units like Selex and AgustaWestland, which employ large numbers of workers in the UK, are expected to lose some of their autonomy under the move.
Before his appointment, Moretti was CEO of Italy's state rail company, where he cut management from 1,200 to 800, reducing the overall head count from 87,000 to 67,000.
When the head of a Finmeccanica unit greeted Moretti after his appointment by saying, "Welcome and good luck," Moretti allegedly replied, "I am the one who should be saying 'good luck' to you."
Moretti's new industrial plan for Finmeccanica, launched in January, includes €150 million in annual cost cutting through rationalization of operations, the improving of engineering productivity by 10 percent and €250-350 million in savings on procurement costs.
At a meeting with analysts to announce the plan, Moretti said "we have built momentum in the last eight months. Change is already happening, we have started delivering improved performance."
Tom Kington in Rome contributed to this report.
Andrew Chuter is the United Kingdom correspondent for Defense News.