At the end of the nineties, when the EADS consortium was being created, a center-left government in Italy tried to push Finmeccanica towards alliances in Europe, but the company opted instead for more Anglo-American engagement.
The company later acquired Britain’s Westland, reached a supply deal with Boeing and bought U.S. company DRS Technologies.
Debate about defense topics is likely to heat up ahead of an Italian general election in 2013, as politicians appeared divided in assessing the immediate fallout of the EADS-BAE move.
Members of the center-left PD party said they favoured new alliances with European peers, while center-right politicians indicated that Finmeccanica’s strong ties with the United States meant it could be marginalised in any European consolidation
“Spaces are also opening up for Italy at the European level. What is happening is for us an opportunity not a threat,” PD politician and defense committee member Federica Mogherini said.
Guido Crosetto, a former defense undersecretary in Berlusconi’s fourth government, said “a deal between EADS and BAE risks being a graveyard for Finmeccanica’s moves in Europe.”
Its options are however limited because a merger of Finmeccanica with the EADS-BAE entity - a partner in the key Eurofighter warplane and MDBA missile projects - could raise antitrust concerns in the helicopter business as it would put together two sector leaders, AgustaWestland and Eurocopter.
Finmeccanica is also a major supplier to Boeing, the main rival of EADS subsidiary Airbus.
UBS analyst Rami Myerson said Finmeccanica could expand cooperation with European defense companies not linked to the EADS-BAE group, such as Thales.
Mediobanca analyst Massimo Vecchio said Thales would remain the only M&A option left for Finmeccanica if the EADS-BAE deal goes through.