25 Apr 19. Mercury Systems acquires new companies. Mercury Systems has announced acquisitions of the Athena Group and Syntonic Microwave, the company announced on 18 April. The Athena Group is a Gainesville, Florida-based provider of cryptographic and countermeasure IP vital to securing defence computing systems. The company offers a portfolio of differential power analysis technologies solutions that enable key applications such as artificial intelligence, mobile communications and cloud computing.
Campbell, California-based Syntonic Microwave is a provider of advanced synthesisers, wideband phase coherent tuners and microwave converters optimised for signals intelligence (SIGINT) and electronic intelligence (ELINT) applications demanding frequency coverage up to 40 GHz with 2 GHz instantaneous bandwidth.
Mark Aslett, president and chief executive officer, Mercury Systems, said: ‘The acquisitions of Athena and Syntonic continue to enable us to grow the size of our total addressable market and reinforce our strategy of becoming the leading provider of secure and safety-critical processing subsystems for aerospace and defence applications. We are very pleased to welcome the Athena and Syntonic teams to the Mercury family.’ (Source: Shephard)
26 Apr 19. SAS Global seeks to extend halt to trading. Australian space company SAS Global has sought to extend the trading halt on its shares while it looks for two new directors and beds down plans to raise an extra $7.4m to fund its launch plans.
In advice to the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), managing director Meir Moalem said the company expected the voluntary suspension to end at the start of trading on 3 May.
SAS initially sought a suspension of trading on 4 April. Subsequently, the company advised that it had funds to operate for another two months and needed additional funds to proceed with launch plans.
“Following the recent unexpected resignation of two non-executive Australian resident directors, and the subsequent impact of their resignation on the company’s ability to legally close the $7.4m second tranche and priority offer capital raising required to fund the company’s ongoing operations and business plan, SAS requested to be placed into voluntary suspension,” Moalem told the ASX on Thursday.
He said the extension to the trading halt would enable SAS to finalise the appointment of two new Australian resident non-executive directors with the requisite skills and experience. The company would also complete negotiations of material commercial and operational agreements to support the company’s ongoing operations and growth strategy.
SAS, based in Perth, is planning what it calls the Pearls constellation of around 200 nanosatellites in equatorial orbit, providing low cost communication and internet services for markets in Africa, South America and Asia.
Under its new 6U agreement with Danish satellite builder GomSpace, there will be an additional constellation of eight to 16 satellites in high inclination orbits, allowing full global coverage. That will allow the company to enter new markets, which include Australia, Russia, China, South Africa, Argentina and Canada, generating higher revenues. SAS said the planned launch of the first batch of nanosatellites had been moved from mid-2019 to early-2020. Despite its financial challenges, SAS has runs on the board, launching three prototype nanosatellites in June 2017 aboard an Indian rocket as a test of its technology. (Source: Space Connect)
25 Apr 19. Meggitt chairman Nigel Rudd under fire for ‘overboarding.’ Concern over competing commitments spurs 27% of shareholders to vote against his reappointment. Sir Nigel, one of the City’s leading figures, also chairs two other publicly listed companies, BBA Aviation and Sappi. Nigel Rudd, one of Britain’s leading industrialists and chairman of Meggitt, the aerospace and defence group, has come under fire from shareholders over the number of similar positions he holds. Twenty-seven per cent of shareholders voted against the reappointment of Sir Nigel at the FTSE 250 company’s annual meeting on Thursday. Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), the shareholder advisory group, had recommended investors abstain from voting on his re-election before the vote. Governance advisers have become increasingly concerned about so-called “overboarding” by directors amid concerns they are unable to properly fulfil their duties because of too many competing commitments.
As well as Meggitt, Sir Nigel, 72, also chairs two other publicly listed companies, BBA Aviation and Sappi, the Johannesburg-listed paper group. He is one of the City’s leading figures and has held some of the biggest positions in UK business, including chairing the board of Heathrow airport and Williams Holdings, the former industrial conglomerate that was listed on the FTSE 100. A spokesperson for Meggitt pointed out that Sir Nigel had already responded to investor concerns about his extensive number of board positions and retired from his role at Destiny Pharma at the end of last year. It followed a recommendation by ISS for shareholders to vote against his re-election as Meggitt chairman at last year’s annual meeting. Meggitt said it had engaged with all its major shareholders on the issue during the past few months and would continue to do so. It said it had “reviewed Sir Nigel’s time commitments, concluding that Sir Nigel has sufficient capacity to dedicate the appropriate amount of time to Meggitt”, adding that this was “evident . . . most recently during the seamless transition of chief executive in 2018”.
“Many of our major shareholders share the board’s view that Sir Nigel continues to provide excellent leadership of the board and his skill set, experience and knowledge remain of significant value to the board,” the company added. Meggitt, a key supplier to Boeing and Airbus, had earlier reported organic revenue growth of 9 per cent in the first quarter even as it warned of tougher comparisons for the remainder of 2019. Meggitt said there was potential for air traffic growth to moderate and also cited the “uneven nature of demand for defence products”. The company did not detail any impact from the global grounding of Boeing’s 737 Max 8 aircraft following two fatal crashes in less than six months, most recently in Ethiopia in March. Among other things, Meggitt makes sensing systems for engine temperature monitoring and control systems for the Max. It said in 2017 that the value of its content on the Max, including on the engines, which are made by CFM International, was about $155,000. (Source: FT.com)
24 Apr 19. Boeing results reveal powerful blow from 737 Max turmoil. First-quarter revenues at the Boeing’s commercial aircraft division fell by more than $1bn. Boeing’s first-quarter earnings took a big hit from the worldwide grounding of its troubled 737 Max aircraft. The company on Wednesday withdrew its previous financial guidance for the year because it cannot predict when the Max, its biggest cash generator, will return to service. First-quarter revenues at the Boeing’s commercial aircraft division fell by more than $1bn, to $11.8bn from $12.9bn last year. Adjusted company earnings per share for the first quarter fell 13 per cent to $3.16 from $3.64 in the year earlier period, reflecting lower 737 deliveries partially offset by higher defence and services volume, the company said in a statement. First-quarter revenues fell 2 per cent year on year to $22.91bn from $23.38bn and operating earnings fell 18 per cent to $2.35bn from $2.87bn. The Chicago-based aircraft company was reporting its first quarterly earnings since the two deadly crashes which have brought the credibility of the world’s largest commercial aircraft maker into question. Boeing withdrew its previous guidance of full-year revenues between $109.5bn and $111.5bn and adjusted full-year earnings per share between $19.90 and $20.10, and operating cash flow of $17bn to $17.5bn. “Due to the uncertainty of the timing and conditions surrounding return to service of the 737 MAX fleet, new guidance will be issued at a future date”, Boeing said, adding that it is “making steady progress on the path to final certification for a software update for the 737 MAX, with over 135 test and production flights of the software update complete”. (Source: FT.com)
25 Apr 19. Meggitt PLC Trading update. Meggitt PLC (“Meggitt” or “the Group”), a leading international company specialising in high performance components and sub-systems for the aerospace, defence and energy markets, today issues a trading update.
Revenue during the first quarter of 2019 was strong, reflecting our success in increasing content on new aircraft platforms and growth in our end-markets. This contributed to organic growth of 9% excluding the effects of foreign exchange and disposals. We continue to expect strong revenue growth in 2019, but are mindful of more challenging year on year comparators in the remaining three quarters, the potential for air traffic growth to moderate and the uneven nature of demand for defence products.
Civil aerospace revenue grew 7% on an organic basis, within which original equipment revenue increased 9% as a result of continued strong demand on new generation aircraft.
Aftermarket revenue grew 6%, with good underlying air traffic in large jets offset by declining regional jet demand and the effects of a strong prior year comparator where revenue growth had been supplemented by distributor stocking. Defence revenue increased 18% organically with strong demand for our engine composites, brakes and training systems, together with one-off stocking associated with a new distribution agreement signed in late 2018.
Energy revenue declined by 8% organically, reflecting lower demand in the nuclear sector. We have made further good progress in executing our key strategic initiatives in the quarter, including the successful deployment of our new customer-aligned organisation, the sale of our non-core ignition business in France, and initial construction of our state-of-theart manufacturing facility at Ansty Park, UK. We remain focused on driving sustainable improvements in operational performance across the Group, notably at our Engine Composites businesses where we expect elevated costs to continue during the first half to support a further step-up in production. We expect the investments we are making to drive progressive margin improvement throughout the second half. We continue to expect underlying operating margin growth of between 0 to 50 basis points in 2019 (17.7% to 18.2%).
25 Apr 19. Cobham trading in line as it appoints new chairman. Jamie Pike will be well-known to many investors as the current chair of RPC and Spirax-Sarco, while he has also been chairman at Ibstock and Tyman in recent years. Pike will take over from Michael Wareing once RPC’s takeover is completed Defence and aerospace engineer Cobham PLC (LON:COB) has appointed Jamie Pike as its new chairman. Pike, a familiar face in City boardrooms, will replace the outgoing Michael Wareing who was brought in two years ago to steady the ship following a series of profit warnings which culminated in a jumbo £500mln rights issue. The plan all along was that Wareing would step down around the time of the 2019 annual general meeting (AGM), which is taking place today at JP Morgan Cazenove’s swanky offices in central London. Oxford Alumni Pike won’t formally take over until Berry Global competes its £3.34bn takeover of fellow packaging giant RPC Group PLC (LON:RPC), where he currently sits as the FTSE 250 firm’s chairman.
Plenty of directorships
In addition to RPC, Pike is also the chairman of FTSE 100 valve maker Spirax-Sarco Engineering PLC (LON:SPX), while in the past he has chaired the boards of brick company Ibstock Plc (LON:IBST) and door lock manufacturer Tyman PLC (LON:TYMN).
“I am delighted to welcome Jamie to Cobham. He is a very experienced chairman and non-executive director, with a background in engineering and defence,” said current chair Wareing.
“My stepping down represents the final stage of the rolling succession plan agreed by the board at the time of the rights issue in early 2017, and I am pleased that we have delivered on this commitment. Cobham now has a refreshed board to continue improving the group’s performance.”
Solid first quarter
In a separate statement, Cobham confirmed it has performed as expected in the opening few months of 2019 as it repeated its full-year guidance.
“Over the past two years, we have returned Cobham to financial strength, announced our new capital allocation and dividend policy and, slowly but surely, we are resolving the contract, legal and regulatory issues that the business has faced,” asid chief executive David Lockwood.
“Overall, I am encouraged by the progress we are making in improving Cobham’s performance.” (Source: proactiveinvestors.co.uk)
24 Apr 19. Microsoft TechSpark Invests in UND Drone StartUp. Microsoft Corp. and the University of North Dakota (UND) Aerospace Foundation have announced that Microsoft has granted $100,000 in project funding that will drive investment and boost North Dakota’s ambitions to be the epicenter of U.S. drone innovation and entrepreneurism. The project is being funded by a Microsoft TechSpark grant to foster economic opportunities in the state and is expected to attract over half a million dollars in additional investment in Airtonomy, the startup the foundation will partner with on the project. If successful, the project could be a breakthrough in autonomous unmanned aircraft system (UAS) operations with transformational benefits for industries such as agriculture, energy and public safety.
“TechSpark saw the drone innovation in North Dakota’s Red River Valley that is driving exciting advances for the U.S. drone industry and wanted to be a part of it,” said Kate Behncken, general manager of Global Community Engagement at Microsoft. “This cutting-edge project has the potential to increase crop yields and boost the production of renewable energy through safe drone advancements created locally, leading to greater economic opportunities for North Dakotans.”
Microsoft selected North Dakota to be one of six TechSpark regions in 2017, complementing the work at the Fargo campus. TechSpark is the company’s initiative to spark new economic opportunities and job creation in rural and smaller communities through local partnerships. UND Aerospace Foundation will use the $100,000 cash grant to partner with drone startup Airtonomy to undertake the project, which includes developing a proof of concept leveraging Microsoft Azure IoT Edge and artificial intelligence. Airtonomy will field-test the platform’s capabilities to perform autonomous drone aerial imaging over the next year and its commercial applications.
“UND Aerospace has a long history of providing leadership in aerospace innovation and economic diversification by supporting projects that advance the UAS sector and increase high-tech services in the Grand Forks region,” said UND Aerospace Foundation CEO Chuck Pineo. “We are truly excited to partner with Microsoft on developing a concept that promises to develop into a high-growth technology company in our community.”
North Dakota has emerged as a leading state for U.S. drone technology research and development. The Red River Valley has been dubbed the “Silicon Valley” of drone innovation thanks to UAS policies the state and its leaders have championed, aerospace centers like UND, open spaces, and ideal weather conditions for testing.
“Microsoft’s TechSpark support represents a significant opportunity for a startup like ours that wants to innovate and create jobs here in our community,” said Josh Riedy, CEO of Airtonomy. “It gives confidence to others to back our work, providing the jump-start for us to develop a platform that can drive the next evolution in how drones are used commercially.”
The project also represents a milestone for Airtonomy, as the TechSpark support served to unlock an additional nearly $570,000 in funding for the startup from local investors. It is that kind of multiplier effect that was an aim of Microsoft’s TechSpark investment and collaboration with UND as they seek to drive economic opportunity through the North Dakota UAS industry’s potential for growth. It’s been reported the current $1bn commercial U.S. drone industry could grow up to an estimated $46bn by 2026. (Source: UAS VISION)
24 Apr 19. IFS, the global enterprise applications company, today announced its financial results for the first quarter that ended March 31, 2019.
IFS CEO Darren Roos commented, “Our customer obsession continues to drive our financial results as we once more massively outpace the market, and our numbers speak for themselves. As the fastest growing ERP company of scale, we are well-positioned to capture a much bigger piece of the market in 2019 and beyond. The legacy ERP vendors are extorting their customers and, as we see clearly in our numbers, these very customers are choosing a partner who knows that being customer-centric is so much more than a slogan. Customers no longer accept the annual audits, the made-up compliance tricks or the upgrade ultimatums, which have become the new normal. Quite simply, customers are realising IFS is a better alternative.”
Business Performance: Financial and Operational Highlights for Q1 2019
Net revenue for the quarter increased 29% to 154m USD on the back of a remarkable 67% growth in licence revenue, mainly driven by a massive influx of new customers across the globe. These outstanding results confirm both the capabilities of IFS’s offering and the company’s focus on providing sensible enterprise applications that deliver value. This was validated just last week in the IDC MarketScape for SaaS & Cloud ERP recognising IFS’s market leading capabilities.
Adjusted EBITDA grew by nearly 70% during the quarter. While increased revenue was the major driver behind the increase in profits, IFS has focused on significantly reducing the historical investments in the parts of the business which were either non-core, or not contributing value to customers. This singular focus on what customers appreciate—and what they need to continue to challenge their respective industries—remains the guiding principle at IFS. IFS sees the opportunity to continue to incrementally expand its margins as the business grows to scale.
IFS’s focus is to provide customers with a solution that is quick to deploy, always offers the latest capability and at a lower total cost of ownership than the alternatives. IFS is committed to do this whether its customers choose to deploy on premises or in the cloud. In Q1, more net-new IFS customers chose to deploy their IFS solutions in the cloud than ever before. This growth is underpinned by a sound technology partnership with Microsoft Azure to offer customers a secure, global platform across 54 Azure regions, more than any other cloud provider.
The outlook for the second quarter remains positive as the pipeline and ongoing analyst recognition provide the foundation for an excellent 2019 and beyond. In the last month alone, IFS has been named a Leader in the IDC MarketScape for EAM for Asset Intensive Industries, a Major Player in the IDC MarketScape for SaaS & Cloud ERP and a Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Field Service Management Software—a recognition the company has received for the fourth time in a row.
Note: revenue growth figures based on Swedish Krona Q1 2019 versus Q1 2018 and are reported in actual currency.
24 Apr 19. FLIR Systems Announces First Quarter 2019 Financial Results.
GAAP Diluted EPS of $0.45; Adjusted Diluted EPS of $0.53, Up 10% Over Prior Year
Revenue Growth of 1%; Organic Revenue Growth of 1% Over Prior Year
Organic Bookings Growth of 34% Over Prior Year
GAAP Operating Margin Improves 560 Basis Points; Adjusted Operating Margin Improves 190 Basis Points Over Prior Year
FLIR Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: FLIR) today announced financial results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2019. “Overall, we are pleased with our start to 2019,” said Jim Cannon, FLIR President and Chief Executive Officer. “In the quarter, improvements in our product mix and continued commitment to the FLIR Method productivity initiatives drove meaningful margin expansion year over year, resulting in double-digit earnings growth.”
Mr. Cannon continued, “With another quarter of robust bookings – combined with significant opportunities across the portfolio, including our two recent unmanned acquisitions – FLIR is well-positioned for strong performance through 2019 and beyond.”
First Quarter 2019
First quarter 2019 revenue was $444.7m, 1.2% higher than first quarter 2018 revenue of $439.6m. Organic revenue growth was 0.9%, which excludes revenue from the acquisitions of Endeavor Robotics and Aeryon Labs in the first quarter of 2019, and revenue from the divested security businesses in the first quarter of 2018.
GAAP Earnings Results
GAAP gross profit in the first quarter 2019 was $233.7m, compared to $217.9m in the first quarter 2018. GAAP gross margin increased 300 basis points to 52.5% in the first quarter 2019, compared with 49.6% in the prior year. GAAP operating income in the first quarter increased 46.1% to $81.1m, compared to $55.5 m in the prior year, representing a 560 basis point improvement in operating margin.
First quarter 2019 GAAP net earnings were $61.7m, or $0.45 per diluted share, compared with GAAP net earnings of $39.2m, or $0.28 per diluted share in the first quarter last year.
Cash provided by operations was $55.5m in the first quarter 2019, compared to $43.2m in the first quarter 2018, representing a 28.6% increase. Approximately 500,000 shares were repurchased in the first quarter of 2019.
Non-GAAP Earnings Results
Adjusted gross profit was $236.8m in the first quarter 2019, increasing 6.7% over adjusted gross profit of $222.0m in the first quarter 2018. Adjusted gross margin increased 270 basis points to 53.2%, compared with 50.5% in the first quarter 2018. Adjusted operating income was $97.3m in the first quarter 2019, which was 10.9% higher than adjusted operating income of $87.8m in the first quarter 2018. Adjusted operating margin increased 190 basis points to 21.9%, compared with 20.0% in the first quarter 2018.
Adjusted net earnings in the first quarter 2019 were $72.7m, or $0.53 per diluted share, which was 9.6% higher than adjusted earnings per diluted share of $0.48 in the first quarter 2018.
Business Unit Results
Revenue from the Industrial Business Unit was $179.4m, an increase of 5.1% over the first quarter results of last year, due to increased sales of cooled thermal cores, unmanned aerial systems (UAS), and optical gas imaging products. The Government and Defense Business Unit contributed revenue of $173.4m during the first quarter, up 8.8% from the prior year, with strength in unmanned systems (including the acquisitions of Endeavor Robotics and Aeryon Labs) and surveillance systems. The Commercial Business Unit recorded $92.0m of revenue in the first quarter, down 16.1% from the prior year (which included revenue from the divested security businesses), with impacts from continued restructuring in outdoor and tactical systems (OTS), and negative foreign exchange effects.
Financial Outlook for 2019
Based on financial results for the first quarter of the year and the outlook for the remainder of the year, FLIR continues to expect revenue in 2019 to be in the range of $1.92bn to $1.95bn. This represents 8% to 10% revenue growth compared to 2018, including approximately 5% organic revenue growth, in-line with the strategic plan presented in May 2018. FLIR also continues to expect 2019 adjusted operating income margins to be in the range of 22% to 23%, and adjusted earnings per diluted share to be in the range of $2.30 to $2.36. 2019 financial outlook includes contributions from the Aeryon Labs and Endeavor Robotics acquisitions, which are expected to be dilutive to adjusted EPS through 2019.
23 Apr 19. Trump’s policies lift Lockheed Martin’s profit, shares surge. Lockheed Martin Corp reported better-than-expected quarterly profit on Tuesday as U.S. President Donald Trump’s looser policies on foreign arms sales boosted demand for missiles and fighter jets.
The Pentagon’s biggest weapons supplier is the first major defense company to report quarterly earnings this week, which Wall Street expects to be higher than a year ago as global demand for arms rises. Trump’s administration has proposed an increase in U.S. defense spending for the next fiscal year.
Lockheed shares rose nearly 7 percent in their best one-day percentage rise since October 2016. Investors bet on similar results from the whole sector, pushing Northrop Grumman Corp, Raytheon Co and General Dynamics Corp shares up more than 2.7 percent.
Lockheed’s Missiles and Fire Control business, which makes missile defenses like the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), was one of its best-performing units.
On April 1, in a deal that was partially brokered by Trump, the unit was awarded a THAAD interceptor missile contract worth $2.4bn, many of which are slated to be delivered to Saudi Arabia.
Chief Financial Officer Kenneth Possenriede told investors on a post-earnings conference call that profits for the unit for the rest of the year would not be as strong, “a little north of 13 percent margin,” because of investments in future programs.
Overall, the Bethesda, Maryland-based company said its earnings rose to $1.70bn, or $5.99 per share, in the first quarter ended March 31, from $1.16 bn, or $4.02 per share, a year earlier. That was partly helped by a $75m dollar boost from additional tax deductions on foreign military sales, part of Trump’s tax cut that came into effect last year.
Excluding that one-time gain, Lockheed reported $5.73 per share profit, well ahead of the $4.34 per share that Wall Street had expected, on average, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
The company had a 12.4 percent tax rate in the first quarter but Possenriede said he expected its 2019 tax rate to be 15.5 percent.
Lockheed’s overall net sales for the quarter rose 23 percent to $14.34bn. The company’s sales backlog grew to $133.5bn, up 3 bn over the quarter.
Lockheed shares were up 6.6 percent at $336.23 in afternoon trading.
JET SALES UP
Operating margins at the aeronautics division, Lockheed’s biggest, fell to 10.5 percent in the first quarter from 10.8 percent a year earlier, but sales were up 27 percent to $5.5bn on demand for the F-35 jet and some classified contracts.
The United States is considering expanding sales of Lockheed-made F-35 fighter jets to five new nations including Romania, Greece and Poland as European allies bulk up their defenses in the face of a strengthening Russia, a Pentagon official told Congress in early April. The F-35, a key program for Lockheed, suffered a setback earlier this month when a Japanese F-35 stealth fighter crashed in the Pacific Ocean close to northern Japan. The aircraft was less than a year old and was the first F-35 assembled in Japan.
The company highlighted some risks in its earnings report, including U.S. “government actions to prevent the sale or delivery of the corporation’s products” to Turkey.
The U.S. Congress recently introduced several bipartisan resolutions targeting Turkey, calling on President Donald Trump’s administration to impose sanctions or prohibit the transfer of F-35 fighter aircraft. (Source: Reuters)
23 Apr 19. Damen reports 15-year financial low. Dutch shipbuilder Damen Shipyards Group has reported a EUR17m (USD19m) net loss for 2018, a decrease it attributes to ongoing difficulties in certain maritime markets and the result of absorbing operating losses from a number of recent investments. This is the first time the company has reported a loss in 15 years. Despite high activity levels and turnover in the group – it secured orders for EUR1.9bn over this period – profit is what is challenging the group, as it contends with vessel oversupply, increased competition, and a rise in labour costs. It describes facing “tough trading conditions” in the offshore hydrocarbon sectors, despite the price of oil increasing after years of decline, while there is a notable decrease in its Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding business, which has witnessed a slow uptake in the awards of expected contracts from the Netherlands and Germany. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
23 Apr 19. Gemalto shares will be delisted on 29 May 2019. Reference is made to the joint press release by Thales (Euronext Paris: HO) and Gemalto (Euronext Amsterdam and Paris: GTO) dated 16 April 2019 on the results of the Post-Closing Acceptance Period in relation to the recommended all-cash offer by Thales for all the issued and outstanding shares of Gemalto (the Offer). Thales and Gemalto jointly announce today that, at their request, Euronext has confirmed that the ordinary shares in the capital of Gemalto will be delisted from Euronext Amsterdam and Euronext Paris effective on 29 May 2019. The last day that Gemalto shares can be traded on Euronext will therefore be 28 May 2019.
22 Apr 19. Adani Enterprises’ wholly owned subsidiary — Adani Defence Systems and Technologies has acquired the control of Alpha Design Technologies. The acquired company provides Adani Defence and Aerospace a strong Tier – I capability for building a base for graduating to platform capabilities. The key Business Areas of Alpha Design Technologies is in Defence Electronics, Avionics, Aero-structure Assemblies, Space and Satellite Systems, Simulators etc. Adani Enterprises is an infrastructure company. The company is engaged in coal trading, coal mining, oil and gas exploration, ports, multimodal logistics, power generation and transmission, and gas distribution. (Source: Google/https://udaipurkiran.com)
19 Apr 19. Leonardo shows interest in taking over drone-maker Piaggio’s engine work. Italian defense giant Leonardo is ready to take over the engine maintenance work carried out by crisis-hit Piaggio Aerospace, CEO Alessandro Profumo has said.
Italy-based Piaggio Aerospace was placed in receivership late last year by its then-owner Mubadala, an investment fund based in the United Arab Emirates. Mubadala also canceled a planned order of eight Piaggio P.1HH drones. One reported reason for Mubadala’s decision was its impatience as Italy dragged its heels on promises to buy an enhanced version of the drone. Leonardo was also working on the drone, and Profumo said the firm’s €120-130m (U.S. $136-147m) investment in the project had been lost. As hundreds of staff at Piaggio’s Genoa facilities risk being sacked, Leonardo has been identified as a potential buyer of the firm. Profumo expressed interest, but not in the firm’s drone work — only the maintenance work it carries out on Italian Air Force MB-339 jet trainers.
“We have said we are available to get involved in the maintenance activity,” he said.
The trainers are to be phased out when Leonardo’s new M-345 jet trainer is delivered to the Air Force, but those MB-339 trainers are to still be used by Italy’s pilot training school in Puglia. Leonardo is closely involved in that school, which is increasingly drawing trainee pilots from other air forces.
“We see pilot training as a core business, and Piaggio undertakes maintenance of the MB-339 engines, which are still the basic aircraft for training, ahead of the introduction of the M345,” Profumo said. “We cannot risk the MB-339s being grounded.
“Training is becoming a fundamental pillar for us.”
As activity at the Puglia base booms, the Italian Air Force is expected to move its advanced M-346 trainers to a new home at Decimomannu Air base on the Italian island of Sardinia, thus doubling the training sites in Italy. The service will keep the MB-339s — and subsequently the new M-345s — in Puglia.
Leonardo lost a bid to sell the M-346 to the U.S. Air Force last year, but Profumo said new sales of the aircraft would be made by the end of the year.
Price was one reason the M-346 lost out to winners Boeing and Saab, which begs the question of why Leonardo was unprepared to lower its price to win such a large order.
“We understand Boeing is making a significant investment in the program,” Profumo said. “They have a scale that we don’t have.”
Another Leonardo platform is now close to market. The firm’s AW609 civil tilt rotor should secure certification by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration no later than the beginning of 2020, he said.
Development was held up by the crash of a test aircraft in 2015, with the loss of two pilots, which slowed certification by 18 months, he said. (Source: Defense News)