GKN hovers near a deal

GKN-Westland Helicopters’ joint venture with Italian helicopter firm Agusta is in ‘the final stages of negotiations’, the company said this week. But GKNand its opposite number, Agusta parent Finmeccanica, have yet to indicate when an announcement will be made. The merger is likely to be an equal partner joint venture, along the lines of last […]

GKN-Westland Helicopters’ joint venture with Italian helicopter firm Agusta is in ‘the final stages of negotiations’, the company said this week.

But GKNand its opposite number, Agusta parent Finmeccanica, have yet to indicate when an announcement will be made.

The merger is likely to be an equal partner joint venture, along the lines of last year’s deal between the UK’s Marconi and Italy’s Alenia.

A spokesman for the Yeovil-based helicopter firm said recent predictions of an early tie-up between a merged Westland-Agusta and the Franco-German Eurocopter company were wide of the mark.

‘Let’s get the first phase of the merger done first, and then the options for the future will become clearer,’ he said.

‘Eurocopter is obviously one of the options, but not the only one,’ he added.

GKN Westland has relationships with Boeing, through the Apache attack helicopter, with Sikorsky through production under licence, and Agusta which builds Bell helicopters under licence.

There is also a deal with Kawasaki for marketing the EH101, built by Westland and Agusta, but including the prospect of licence production.

Last April, GKN and Finmeccanica started talks on merging Augusta and Westland, which at the time had combined orders worth $8.5bn (£5.2bn). They called their EH101 collaboration: ‘a sound, commercial platform for a closer alliance’.