Finmeccanica Names Ex-Police Chief as Chairman After Graft Claim

Finmeccanica SpA, Italy’s biggest defense company, appointed former police chief Giovanni De Gennaro as chairman to succeed Giuseppe Orsi, who quit on Feb. 15 after being arrested over bribery allegations.

De Gennaro, 64, who led the Italian police force for seven years until 2007, was nominated by the Italian Treasury and had his posting approved at a meeting of Finmeccanica shareholders today, the Rome-based company said in a statement.

Orsi, who was also chief executive officer, lost his job amid a bribery probe over the sale of AgustaWestland AW101 helicopters to India that prompted Finmeccanica to delay 2012 results which eventually showed a 828 million-euro ($1 billion) loss. New CEO Alessandro Pansa has promised to return the company to profit this year with the help of asset disposals.

De Gennaro -- who also led Italy’s secret service and was given oversight of the agency as a deputy premier in Mario Monti’s government -- will work with Pansa in managing day-to-day affairs including institutional relations, communications and an ongoing internal audit. The CEO will retain most of the responsibilities he was previously assigned, Finmeccanica said.

The appointment was criticized by some political parties because of De Gennaro’s handling of protests at a Group of Eight summit in Genoa in 2001, where one person was shot dead.

Shareholders also elected Alessandro Minuto Rizzo and Dario Frigerio to the board to fill vacancies, Finmeccanica said.

Finmeccanica stock advanced 6.4 percent to 3.99 euros in Milan before today’s release, valuing the company -- which has more than 4 billion euros of debt -- at 2.31 billion euros. The stock has retreated 8.3 percent so far this year.

Efforts to generate as much as 1 billion euros through asset sales, including Finmeccanica’s share of power-plant construction unit Ansaldo Energia, have stuttered amid the leadership vacuum. Pansa has ceased giving a time line for when disposals might happen, while confirming they remain planned.

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