• Italian aerospace giant seeks association with C15th polymath
  • Mona Lisa artist also drew up plans for helicopter and tank

Finmeccanica SpA said a surprise decision to rename itself after Leonardo da Vinci is intended to echo the Renaissance polymath’s “genius” in describing inventions including the helicopter centuries before they became a reality.

While well-known within the aviation industry, Finmeccanica needs an easier-to-remember title, Chief Executive Officer Mauro Moretti said Thursday after announcing that Italy’s second-largest manufacturer after Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV will be known as Leonardo SpA from Jan. 1 next year.

Renowned as the painter of the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, the original Leonardo’s interests spanned architecture, literature, mathematics, anatomy, geology and astronomy. Most pertinent to Finmeccanica, the avid inventor has been credited with devising workable plans for the helicopter and the tank.

“We looked for something that would reflect the history of our evolution in space and security,” Moretti said at a press conference in Milan’s Science and Technology Museum Leonardo da Vinci, which hosts a collection of the Italian master’s models and drawings. “Luckily we have this genius Leonardo. We think that this will be the basis of our future motto: genius at your service.”

April Vote

Finmeccanica, which employs almost 50,000 people, said in a statement that after a structural revamp that included the sale of a its rail business, the company is ready to “redefine its identity.” Shareholders will vote on the name change at their annual meeting next month.

The Rome-based group, which owns the Alenia Aermacchi aerospace and AgustaWestland helicopter brands and holds a 21 share in the Eurofighter program, plans to operate as Leonardo-Finmeccanica SpA this year to ensure continuity in its relationships with foreign customers.

Finmeccanica, also a partner in missile maker MBDA, spaceflight services provider Telespazio Spa and turboprop producer ATR, said earnings rose 19 percent to 1.9 billion euros ($2.1 billion) last year. The stock traded 1.2 percent lower at 2:40 p.m. local time, valuing the company at 6.3 billion euros.

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