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23 Jul 02. Finmeccanica SpA (I.MEC), said at Farnborough that it was still interested in acquiring the assets of Marconi Mobile which includes the company’s defence interests. Having been thwarted by parent Marconi Plc., the company is now belived to have re-entered negotiations with the Itgalian conglomerate following the uncertainities surrounding the IPO market. Whilst Marconi told BATTLESPACE that the project was on course for Septmeber the win of the Falcon downselecet reported by BATTLESPACER last week has made the need for fiancial stability at Marconi Mobile more urgent. The MoD was belivede to have trequested a bond to support the long-term Flacon requirements but with Marconi shares languishing at an all toime low of 4p, this may have proved tooo expensive.

Finmeccanica also said that it wants to reshuffle its scattered collection of aerospace and defense assets as well as streamline its web of strategic alliances in Europe and the U.S.

As part of the broad shakeup, Finmeccanica said it would renew talks with European Aeronautic Defense & Space Co . NV (N.EAD), the 80%-owner of Airbus ( F.ABI), to look into the possibility of buying a minority stake in the European aircraft maker. Following a review of its business portfolio, the company has identified key operations, such as helicopters, in which it holds a strong market position via the AgustaWestland venture with GKN Plc and where “it wants to remain master at home,” Finmeccanica Chief Executive Officer Roberto Testore said at the Farnborough airshow.

Finmeccanica has identified other units, such as its Alenia Spazio satellite making arm, which have been hit hard by the downturn and could opt to pair up with a rival.

Testore, who was appointed at the helm of Finmeccanica in May, said developments on some partnerships could take place this fall.

Italy has irked some of its European partners in recent months after the government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi moved to participate in the U.S. – led JSF combat aircraft program and scrapped an order for 16 European military transport planes.

“We are involved in many programs in the U.S. but also in Europe,” Testore said. “And we remain strongly committed to European programs such as the Eurofighter.”The Finmeccanica CEO said buying a stake in Airbus “isn’t a priority” but added it was something he would be “considering seriously.”

Finmeccanica held an option to acquire a 5% stake in Airbus as part of a broader agreement signed in 1999 with EADS to cooperate on military aircraft.

EADS has said the option became obsolete when the military plane project was ditched in late 2001.

EADS co -CEO Rainer Hertrich, however, said Monday that a new option might be awarded to Finmeccanica.

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