After the end of the Second World War Italian industry is in a very critical condition: production facilities have suffered considerable damages and companies - especially mechanical ones - have changed dramatically during the war, taking dimensions and integrating activities no longer sustainable in peacetime. Finmeccanica is given the difficult task of granting a future to those companies.
1948: IRI (Italian Institute for Industrial Reconstruction) establishes the Società Finanziaria Meccanica Finmeccanica, to manage all the holdings in the mechanical engineering and shipbuilding industry acquired in the first fifteen years of the Institute’s existence. Many historical brands converge within the new Finmeccanica, such as Ansaldo, San Giorgio, Alfa Romeo, Navalmeccanica, Sant’Eustacchio.
1959: IRI sets up Fincantieri in which it gathers together all Finmeccanica’s shipbuilding companies.
1960: Finmeccanica establishes Selenia by merging Sindel and Microlambda, the only company in Italy to produce state-of-the-art radar licensed by the US company Raytheon. At the time this was the most advanced radar technology in the world. Soon Selenia became a global centre of excellence for the production of satellites, radar equipment, telecommunications, defence and air traffic control systems.
During the Sixties, the search for a more competitive dimension and the need to establish a more rational structure of state-owned companies drives the Group towards greater concentration in sectors with high technological content, which leads to focus on three key sectors: automobiles (with Alfa Romeo), thermo-electro-mechanics (with Ansaldo) and aerospace (with Aeritalia).
1966: Finmeccanica launches a complete restructuring of Ansaldo, focusing on energy and plant design.
1968: Railways companies are sold to EFIM.
1969: Finmeccanica and FIAT establish Aeritalia by merging their respective activities in aeronautics and space, with the aim of creating an important high-tech industrial complex with a leading role in the Italian aerospace sector.
1970: Electronics companies leave the Group and are sold to STET.
The energy crisis of 1973 triggers a process of recession and inflation which would influence the entire global economy for many years. The increase in the price of money and the market crisis which invests its main sectors forces Finmeccanica to a thorough review of the industrial policy followed so far.
1974: Spacelab project is launched in Italy and Aeritalia takes part in it as subcontractor. It is a decisive boost to the company’s growth and the starting point for an international development period.
1976: with the 1976 strategic plan Finmeccanica sets out the main objectives of a new strategy: reorganisation, internationalisation, and competitiveness. Aeritalia increases its international focus with involvement in important programmes: Tornado, AMX, B767, A330, ATR, Eurofighter.
1980: to tackle the crisis in the energy market, Finmeccanica focuses on the improvement of other activities of Ansaldo, such as the railway sector, with the incorporation of Ansaldo Trasporti, listed on the Milan Stock Exchange in 1986.
1981: in collaboration with the French company Aérospatiale, Aeritalia sets up the ATR programme for the production of turboprop regional aircraft, paving the way for one of the Finmeccanica Group’s greatest successes worldwide in the aeronautical sector.
1986: the crisis in the automotive sector also hits Alfa Romeo to which Finmeccanica can guarantee a future only through a comprehensive agreement with another carmaker. In 1986 all Alfa Romeo’s production activities are sold to FIAT.
The imminent opening of the markets pushes companies towards a rationalisation of their own production at global level, in order to maintain technological supremacy. Acquisitions and alliances are the main instruments to achieve these objectives, marking the start of a process which would redesign, within a decade, entire industrial sectors. Finmeccanica therefore starts a new series of acquisitions with the primary objective of increasing the competitive strength of its business which now has to measure up on an international level.
1987: The 1987 annual report records the basic passage from reorganisation to the next phase: international development.
1989: IRI brings back into the Finmeccanica framework those companies chiefly involved in electronics technology, including Selenia and Elsag, thus entering high tech sectors, such as civil systems, automatic production, command and control systems, missile systems, complex robotics and microelectronic components.
1990: Finmeccanica establishes Alenia, by merging Aeritalia and Selenia. This operation creates an industrial complex endowed with a very broad and advanced technological base, operating in aeronautics, space, electronics and missile systems, air traffic control.
1991: following the agreement with Asea Brown Boveri, Ansaldo gives a definitive structure to the energy sector, with the setting up of Ansaldo Energia, which incorporates all activities related to plant engineering and components.
1992: through a merger with its subsidiary Sifa, Finmeccanica made its debut on the official list of the Milan stock market under the new name Finmeccanica Società per Azioni.
The early Nineties are characterized by a downturn in the world economy: reduction in budgets for defence spending due to the end of the Cold War, air transport crisis, decrease of military and scientific orders in space sector. The structural crisis of the aerospace industry at international level results in a significant adjustment of Finmeccanica’s strategies, necessary to remain competitive at international level.
1994: Finmeccanica acquires from EFIM in liquidation the defence companies, thus concentrating within the Group more than 70% of national industrial capacity in aerospace and defence. The companies which are now becoming part of Finmeccanica Group boast a long and solid industrial tradition: Agusta, Breda Costruzioni Ferroviarie, Breda Meccanica Bresciana, Officine Galileo, Oto Melara, SMA, BredaMenarinibus.
1995: WASS is formed following the merger of the underwater systems division of FIAT company Whitehead SpA and Finmeccanica company Elsag Sistemi Navali. Whitehead is a historic company whose origins are linked to the name of the Robert Whitehead, the British engineer who invented the torpedo.
1996: new rationalization in the Group’s activities. The operational units are organized in macro divisions, with a leader for each one: Alenia Aerospazio, Agusta Elicotteri, Alenia Difesa, Ansaldo, Elsag Bailey. Ansaldo Trasporti establishes Ansaldo Signal, to which the group’s railway signalling business is transferred. Soon afterwards Ansaldo Signal is listed on the Nasdaq in New York.
1997: a reorganisation and re-launch plan establishes some key guidelines to boost Group’s competitiveness: decisive action for economic and financial recovery, capital increase of around 2,000 billion, focus on core business, spin-off of main activities, creation of joint ventures in the defence and helicopters sector, disposal of non-strategic activities.
The financial recovery – confirmed by the return to profit in 1999 – enabled the launch of a policy of agreements at international level which allowed Finmeccanica to seize the best opportunities offered by the reorganisation of the European aerospace industry, reversing a difficult starting position and achieving a highly respected role on the international stage.
1998: Finmeccanica starts the process to reincorporate activities into operating companies consistent with the international development strategy, while maintaining the strategic and industrial control. The Elsag Bailey Division, after the sale of the controlled company Elsag Bailey Process Automation, forms the new Elsag, specialising in Information & Communication Technology.
1999: Finmeccanica and GKN set up AgustaWestland, a 50-50 joint venture combining the two groups’ helicopter businesses. Alenia Marconi Systems (AMS) is established, a joint venture bringing together the radar, land and naval command and control systems, and air traffic control systems businesses of Finmeccanica and UK partner BAE Systems.
2000: in two years other operating companies are created from former divisions: Alenia Spazio, Agusta, Galileo Avionica, OTO Melara, AnsaldoBreda, Ansaldo Trasporti Sistemi Ferroviari, Alenia Aeronautica. IRI starts the privatization process of Finmeccanica and sells nearly all of its stake in the Group thereby reducing the public presence in Finmeccanica to 32%.
2001: a joint venture between Finmeccanica, EADS and BAE Systems results in the creation of MBDA in the missiles sector.
2002 marks the beginning of an expansion policy, obtained through agreements and acquisitions, to strengthen Finmeccanica’s presence in the sectors where it concentrated its core business: Aerospace, Defence and Security. These strategic choices change the appearance of the Group which, while maintaining solid basis in Italy, becomes increasingly more international, both in the way of its industrial presence and in its participation in major aerospace development programmes.
2002: acquisition of Marconi Mobile and OTE (which became part of Selenia Communications) and Telespazio, and Aeronautica Macchi. The activities of Finmeccanica’s International Naval Systems division merge into a joint venture set up with Fincantieri, thus creating Orizzonte Sistemi Navali, a naval engineering company operating in the planning and construction of military naval units with advanced technological content.
2003: Finmeccanica starts the cooperation on the B787 Dreamliner project. In the early 2000s the Group is engaged in many major international projects such as SuperJet 100, Joint Strike Fighter, Cosmo-SkyMed, International Space Station. Finmeccanica acquires 30% of Fiat Avio (the stake would later decrease to 15% in the new Avio SpA) operating in spacecraft propulsion. Selenia Communications acquires MMA (Marconi Mobile Access), a centre of excellence for mobile radio applications.
2004: Finmeccanica signs a definitive agreement with GKN to acquire its 50% stake in the helicopter joint venture AgustaWestland N.V. One of the major player worldwide in the helicopter sector is now wholly owned by Finmeccanica.
2005: Finmeccanica signs with BAE Systems the EuroSystems agreement, which would reorganize the whole European defence and electronics business, by establishing three new companies: SELEX Sistemi Integrati, SELEX Sensors and Airborne Systems, SELEX Communications. Finmeccanica creates the Space Alliance with Alcatel, by setting up two joint ventures: Telespazio, for satellite services and Alcatel Alenia Space, for manufacturing activities. In 2007 Thales replaces Alcatel in the joint venture, thus forming the new Thales Alenia Space.
Finmeccanica keeps on working for the consolidation of its position worldwide and for the strengthening of the Group’s integration. The search for expansion into new markets leads to major acquisitions in the United Kingdom and the United States. Finmeccanica becomes one of the world's most acknowledged and internationalized player in the Defence and Security sector.
2006: Finmeccanica establishes Ansaldo STS, to which Ansaldo Signal’s signalling activities and Ansaldo Trasporti Sistemi Ferroviari’s systems business are transferred. Immediately afterwards 60% of the company is floated on the stock market.
2007: Datamat is incorporated into the group’s defence electronics business, along with its expertise in ICT systems and solutions, to form with Elsag the new integrated group Elsag Datamat. Finmeccanica acquires also the British company Vega which will be integrated in Selex Sensors & Airborne Systems.
2008: Finmeccanica acquires DRS Technologies, a USA company leader in supplying of integrated defence electronics products, services and support. The new brand SELEX Galileo represents both SELEX Sensors & Airborne Systems and Galileo Avionica on the market.
At the end of 2008 a global crisis explodes in the financial sector and gradually expands into the real economy, triggering a phase of recession which affects all the traditional aerospace and defence markets, highlighting extreme drops in investments and in industrial production. Finmeccanica is entering a new phase which focuses on a dual objective: selective expansion towards international markets with high potential and greater focus on products and technologies competitiveness.
2009: AgustaWestland purchases 87.61% of PZL – Swidnik, a Polish company that manufactures helicopters and aerostructures.
2011: Finmeccanica announces partnership with First Reserve Corporation, an international private equity investor specialised in the energy sector, for the sale of a 45% stake in Ansaldo Energia. The merger between Elsag Datamat and SELEX Communications gives birth to SELEX Elsag, a centre of expertise in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Security, Automation and Telecommunications sectors.
2012: the new Alenia Aermacchi is born, as a result of the merger between Alenia Aeronautica and its subsidiaries Alenia Aermacchi, Alenia Aeronavali and Alenia SIA. All the industrial activities in the sector are grouped together under a common denominator with the aim of consolidating and re-launching the company’s product lines and competitiveness.
2013: Selex ES is created by merging the Group’s European companies operating in Security and Defence Electronics, thus establishing a global leader in the field of electronic and IT technology. Finmeccanica also signs the agreements to sell its remaining stake in Ansaldo Energia to Fondo Strategico Italiano.
In the first half of 2014, Finmeccanica’s top management change starts a deep process of change within the Group, both in the way of strategic choices and at the organisational level. Along with this process comes the restructuring of specific segments, for the purpose of reducing costs and achieve economies of scale, in addition to the finalization of the divestment of non-core business sectors. The process of change reaches its peak in 2016, with the company name change, marking the new beginning and manifesting the will for change.
2014: Finmeccanica launches the guidelines for the new Group Organisational and Operational Model. The objective is to create a one company: a more cohesive, homogeneous and efficient group in which all processes are centralised and integrated. In the same year Finmeccanica sells BredaMenarinibus to newco Industria Italiana Autobus (20% Finmeccanica and 80% King Long).
2015: the new Finmeccanica Group 2015-2019 Industrial Plan is introduced, which aims at strengthening the high tech core business sectors of Aerospace, Defence and Security and increasing competitiveness on international markets. In the same year, Finmeccanica agrees to sell Japanese Group Hitachi some investments in AnsaldoBreda and Ansaldo STS and its subsidiary FATA to Gruppo Danieli.
2016: On 1 January Finmeccanica transforms officially into One Company. The holding company absorbs its subsidiaries (AgustaWestland, Alenia Aermacchi, Selex ES, OTO Melara, WASS) and becomes an operating company with seven divisions corresponding to its business segments, while still maintaining control of investee companies and joint ventures that did not become part of the division based reorganisation process (DRS Technology, Telespazio, Thales Alenia Space, ATR, MBDA). On 28 April the Shareholders’ Meeting approves the company name change. Finmeccanica becomes Leonardo SpA.