* Says to meet on results to "no later than April 30"
* Finmeccanica met on helicopter deal with Indian delegation
* India has threatened to scrap helicopter deal
By Paolo Biondi and Danilo Masoni
ROME/MILAN, Feb 21 Italian defence group
Finmeccanica has delayed publication of its 2012
results after a bribery probe connected with the sale of 12
helicopters to Indian authorities, it said on Thursday.
After a board meeting, Finmeccanica said it had postponed
the approval of its full-year accounts from March 12 to a new
meeting to be held no later than April 30, to "evaluate the
impact of recent economic events on its balance sheet."
Finmeccanica is at the centre of an Italian probe alleging
that it paid bribes to win the 560 million euro ($750 million)
contract awarded in 2010 to its Anglo-Italian helicopter unit
An Indian delegation is in Italy to collect evidence
relating to the probe, which escalated last week with the arrest
of the then head of Finmeccanica, Giuseppe Orsi.
The Italian investigation is putting pressure on the Indian
government, already buffeted by a string of graft cases. It has
also become a political issue in Italy ahead of parliamentary
elections on Feb. 24-25.
Italian prosecutors accuse Orsi of paying bribes to
intermediaries to secure the helicopter deal back in 2010, when
he was head of AgustaWestland. According to the arrest warrant,
the Indian tender was twisted to favour the Italian firm.
India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Monday the
government had nothing to hide.
Orsi has denied any wrongdoing.
Finmeccanica's executives met a senior Indian delegation in
Italy on Thursday about the probe, and both sides said the talks
"A very positive meeting for our side. The company has
assured us it will provide all the papers to satisfy our
concerns about the allegations ... in the shortest possible
time," an Indian official with direct knowledge of the matter
India's defence ministry has threatened to cancel the
helicopter deal unless Finmeccanica can give assurances that no
bribes were paid. Three AW101 helicopters, manufactured in
Yeovil in the UK, have already been delivered to India.
Italian financial newspaper MF said on Thursday the group
would make a writedown on the Indian helicopters order.
Finmeccanica, Italy's second-largest private sector employer,
was not immediately available to comment on the report.
The four-man Indian delegation, led by Indian Ministry of
Defence Joint Secretary Shri Arun Kumar Bal and Central Bureau
of Investigation official Mahipal Yadav, arrived in northern
Italy earlier this week and has already met judge Luca Labianca,
who signed off Orsi's arrest warrant.
The Indian official said on Thursday the team would also meet
a high-ranking official at Italy's Foreign Affairs Ministry in
Rome on Thursday as well as Eugenio Fusco, the Italian
prosecutor investigating the case, on Friday.
Finmeccanica said in its statement its board had also
discussed the sale of its Ansaldo Energia unit but no decision
on this issue was taken.
The group has put Ansaldo Energia up for sale as part of an
asset disposal plan aimed at streamlining the company and
avoiding credit rating downgrades, but the sale process has
dragged on for months.
Finmeccanica also named Daniele Romiti as the chief of its
helicopter unit, replacing Bruno Spagnolini, who was arrested
earlier in February with Finmeccanica's former CEO as part of