Fincantieri buys Leonardo’s torpedo unit in deal that could reach $446M

Fincantieri buys Leonardo’s torpedo unit in deal that could reach 6M

ROME — Fincantieri has acquired Leonardo’s torpedo unit for up to €415 million (U.S. $446 million), the two Italian firms announced Thursday, bolstering the former’s ambition to become a major player in the undersea warfare business.

State-controlled shipyard Fincantieri will pay €300 million, plus an additional sum of up to €115 million based on the unit’s performance in 2024, the companies said.

Fincantieri, which already builds submarines for the Italian Navy, will undertake a capital increase of €400 million to cover the purchase.

Originally known as WASS, the torpedo unit saw €160 million in revenue last year and holds a 50% stake in GEIE EuroTorp, a joint venture with French firms Naval Group and Thales to market the MU90 light torpedo.

WASS, which stands for Whitehead Alenia Sistemi Subacquei, traces its origins to Englishman John Whitehead, who developed the world’s first effective self-propelled torpedo in 1875 in Fiume — then part of the Austro-Hungarian empire, and now in Croatia.

Leonardo, which the Italian government also controls, has for several years sought a buyer for WASS. The parent firm is increasingly focused on planes, helicopters and electronics.

WASS neatly fits with Fincantieri’s drive to become an integrator in the undersea business, a sector it believes will be worth €100 billion between 2024 and 2028.

“The underwater domain is becoming increasingly relevant for military and security issues concerning critical subsea infrastructures such as gas pipelines, cables for telecommunications and electrical transmissions, as well as for the surveillance of marine mineral deposits,” Fincantieri said in its statement.

Undersea technology was doubly important in the Mediterranean Sea, where activities “such as intelligence, surveillance, defence, and deterrence are experiencing strong growth, necessitating a dedicated industrial focus,” the firm added.

To increase its clout in the sector, Fincantieri is partnering at a new sub-sea center in La Spezia, Italy, bringing together industry, the Italian Navy and academia to work on programs.

Fincantieri also signed a deal last year to work with Leonardo on drones to protect undersea cables and pipelines. In December, the former it bought local firm Remazel, which manages sub-sea operations for the oil and gas sector, and has signed a memorandum of understanding to team with WSense, an Italian startup using Norwegian technology to develop underwater communications based on acoustic and optical signals.

Fincantieri is also working with C.A.B.I. Cattaneo, an Italian supplier of underwater vehicles to Italy’s naval special forces.

Tom Kington is the Italy correspondent for Defense News.

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