AgustaWestland’s India Scandal Threatens To Envelop Other European Companies

  • A News Analysis
  • 09:21 AM, January 31, 2014
  • 4034
AgustaWestland’s India Scandal Threatens To Envelop Other European Companies
AgustaWestland’s India Scandal Threatens To Envelop Other European Companies

India’s decision to cut ties with Finmeccanica, parent company of AgustaWestland looks like it will suck in other European companies as well.

The Indian MoD is reported to be looking at linkages between Finmeccanica and other European defense companies which may have a bearing on current procurements in India.

A visit by a Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) team to Dassault’s facilities in France has been put on hold as part of the Indian government’s efforts to identify the “linkages”. A HAL spokesperson told that the trip to Dassault facilities was postponed indefinitely and that the team was not given a reason.

HAL and Dassault are in advanced negotiations over India’s purchase of 126 Rafale fighters for $19 billion. It is as yet unclear if holding back the HAL visit has anything to do with the bribery charges against AgustaWestland-Finmeccanica in the purchase of VVIP helicopters.

Finmeccanica has long since partnered with Dassault and EADS on programs such as drone and radar development.

In 2010, Thales and Finmeccanica unveiled an enhanced Airborne Surveillance and Control (ASaC) capability that is low cost, low risk and builds upon the combat proven Sea King Mk7 ASaC Cerberus mission system and Searchwater 2000 radar, to provide enhanced operational effectiveness through the use of the next generation AgustaWestland AW101 helicopter. 

In 2011, the two companies set up a joint venture called the Thales Alenia Space (Thales (67%) and Finmeccanica (33%)) and a partner in the Space Alliance along with Telespazio.

Finmeccanica also holds a 25 percent share in MBDA along with the Airbus Group (37.5%), BAE Systems (37.5%).

Missile-maker MBDA also supplies the METERO air-to-air missile meant to meet the requirements of six European nations for future combat scenarios and capable of being integrated onto Europe’s major platforms (Eurofighter TyphoonGripen and Rafale).

NHIndustries, which is competing in a $1 billion for supplying 16 choppers to the Indian Navy, is partly owned by AgustaWestland which holds a 32 percent stake along with Eurocopter (62.5%) and Fokker (5.5%).

The HAL team was scheduled to meet with Eurocopter and Turbomeca in order to explore the possibility of collaborating on not only existing projects but also future aircraft development, according to reports.

Since cancelling the VVIP helicopter deal, India has barred Finmeccanica and its five subsidiaries from participating in the upcoming DEFEXPO 2014 in New Delhi.

The proposal to procure WASS’ heavy weight torpedoes have been put on hold pending a final decision from India’s top criminal investigative agency the Central Bureau of Investigation.

AgustaWestland came into being thanks to the merger between Finmeccanica and GKN in 2000 with each holding a 50 percent stake in the company. In 2004, Finmeccanica acquired the other 50 percent worth £1.06 billion thus becoming the sole owner of the UK-based helicopter company.

In 2013, Italian police arrested Giuseppe Orsi, Finmeccanica’s former CEO on charges of corruption in connection with the Indian VVIP helicopter deal.  While Bruno Spagnolini, head of the AgustaWestland helicopter unit of Finmeccanica, was placed under house arrest. 

With the trial still on-going, a conviction could give Indian authorities cause to blacklist the company.


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