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Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri announced on 9 May 2024 that it has signed an agreement to acquire the underwater weapons division of Leonardo.

The Underwater Armaments Systems (UAS) division of Leonardo was originally established as Whitehead Alenia Sistemi Subacquei SpA. The wholly owned subsidiary of the Italian defence group specialised in the construction of underwater weapons and electronics systems, such as torpedoes, sonar systems and underwater countermeasures. In 2016 Whitehead Alenia merged with Leonardo and became the underwater armaments division. According to Leonardo, the division includes a 50% stake in EuroTorp, which also includes France’s Naval Group and Thales. EuroTorp is responsible for the development and construction of the MU90 lightweight torpedo.

In 2023 UAS generated sales of around EUR 160 million and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) of EUR 34 million out of production sites in Livorno and Pozzuoli. Leonardo states the enterprise value at a total of EUR 415 million. It is made up of a fixed component totalling EUR 300 million, the ‘usual price adjustment mechanisms and a variable component’ totalling ‘up to EUR 115 million’. Fincantieri intends to finance the acquisition with a capital increase up to a maximum of EUR 500 million, supported by the issue of options and shares in two tranches. The transaction is expected to be finalised in early 2025.

Fincantieri and Leonardo have been working together for a long time and are also established international players in the surface sector. Back in October 2023 the two companies signed a letter of intent to strengthen their collaboration in the underwater sector. The aim was to pool expertise and skills.

The takeover will enable Fincantieri to expand its position in the field of underwater acoustics in addition to applications in the underwater weapons sector. In particular, the Trieste-based shipbuilder wants to establish itself as an expert partner in the field of underwater weapons and electronics. The company is aiming to establish the National Subsea Dimension Pole (PNAS): a strategic hub for co-operation between public and private organisations for the promotion, development and co-ordination of synergies between the various national specialists in the underwater sector, in which Fincantieri would like to participate as a ‘natural leader’.

Leonardo’s Underwater Armaments Systems (UAS) division includes a 50% stake in EuroTorp, which is responsible for the development and construction of the MU90 lightweight torpedo. (Photo: Eurotorp)