The Italian Finmeccanica holding completed an important strategic move by taking over the state-controlled Polish PZL Swidnik, due to be incorporated within AgustaWestland.
The Italian-British company already had a 2.3% participation in the Polish Helicopter manufacturer, increased to 6.2% last year. Now, with the acquisition of the 87.6% formerly held by the Polish Agency for the Industrial Development (ARP), AgustaWestland has the almost full control of Swidnik.
The price of the transaction was very reasonable, amounting to a mere €78 million, given the current PZL-Swidnik sales of €100-120 million, and there is a significant growth potential in terms of volume, margin and cost reduction.
PZL-Swidnik has nearly 4,000 employees and is producing Helicopters since the beginning. In 50 years of activities, it produced roughly 7,200 Helicopters and it also is an important AgustaWestland industrial partner, building the airframes for different models including the AW-109, AW-119 and AW-139. The total production for AW reached the 1,000 fuselages built, with 15 AW-139 fuselages produced monthly.
So it was of special interest, for AgustaWestland, to maintain the control on its own supply chain, in particular considering the investments and technology transfers already done. Furthermore, Swidnik also has its own helicopter line including the W-3A SOKOL, a medium weight, twin-turboshaft machine in the 6.4 tons class, apparently well suited to integrate the AW-139 in the lower range of this market; and the small SW-4 of 1.8 tons with no similar products in the AgustaWestland portfolio.
All the Polish Armed Forces helicopters have been produced by PZL, of course, and this also allows it to participate with a strong “local” support in the competitions Poland would launch for new rotary wing machines.
By incorporating Swidnik, AgustaWestland will have its third “pillar” in Europe, in addition to its Italian and British facilities. This means the Italian-British company would compete on a par with Eurocopter/EADS (a group with a presence in France, Germany and Spain), and also will have an easier access to European resources, starting with e-financing of research and development.
Finmeccanica thus obtained a clear success with this new acquisition, following long-lasting negotiations and also overcoming the competition from other bidders, including the Chinese AVIC and, in particular the Czech Aero Vodochody.