Finmeccanica chairman asks board to meet amid probe


The chairman of Italian defence company Finmeccanica has asked for a board meeting to be called after the group said earlier its external relations director will step aside following reports he is being probed in an investigation.

“Chairman Pier Francesco Guarguaglini communicates he has requested that the company secretary call a meeting of the group’s board of directors at the earliest possible date,” Finmeccanica said in a statement late on Sunday.

Earlier, Finmeccanica said external relations director Lorenzo Borgogni had agreed “to step aside from his current role while the current judicial matter is fully clarified.”

Investigative sources told Reuters on Saturday Rome investigators had arrested three people in a corruption case revolving around air traffic control services company ENAV and involving Finmeccanica unit Selex Sistemi Integrati, Reuters reports.

Borgogni has been placed under investigation, the sources said.

ENAV was not immediately available for a comment and Rome’s investigators could not be reached.

In a separate statement late on Sunday Finmeccanica said its Chief Executive Giuseppe Orsi had acknowledged Borgogni’s decision to stand aside, adding he occupied a role that reported directly to the group chairman.

Orsi said that the chairman of Selex had called for an urgent extraordinary meeting of its board on Monday “to consider measures necessary to safeguard the interests of the Company, its employees, its customers and its partners.”

Finmeccanica, controlled by Italy’s Treasury, is involved in a long-running case centering on false invoices and slush funds.

In July, legal sources said Guarguaglini had been put under investigation by prosecutors examining allegations of secret slush funds. The company denies making any irregular payments or creating slush funds.

A recent report in Il Corriere della Sera said there was tension between Orsi and Guarguaglini. The Finmeccanica chairman did not chair the group’s recent board meeting on results.

Last Tuesday, Finmeccanica shares shed more than 20 percent when it said it would sell assets worth 1 billion euros to help cut mounting debt, forecast a full-year loss and scrapped its dividend.

Finmeccanica’s shares have underperformed this year because of its exposure to Italy and defence markets, as well as the disclosure of “structural” problems in two units, including its key aeronautics division.