Leonardo was set up in 1948, but its industrial roots go back much further. Many companies that merged into the Group over the years, sometimes changing their names and business sectors, have origins that date back to the early 1900s and, in some cases, the nineteenth century. Over a lifespan of more than 70 years, Leonardo has therefore been a witness to and protagonist of an important industrial journey. Founded after the war to support and relaunch a complex of important, historical national companies active in a variety of sectors such as railways, thermo-electro-mechanical, shipbuilding, Leonardo over the years has focused on companies with a strong technological content in the automotive and then the electronic and aerospace fields.
There followed a series of international agreements and acquisitions of foreign companies that would enable the Company to play a leading role and become a global player in the Aerospace, Defence and Security sectors. But Leonardo's history is also made up of people, their skills and abilities, the passion that has guided them over the years and that has enabled them to build a company that remains at the forefront of technology.
Over a lifespan of more than 70 years, Leonardo has therefore been a witness to and protagonist of an important industrial journey.
Reconstruction in Italy and the beginnings of Finmeccanica
In post-war Italy, industry was in a very parlous state. Production structures had suffered significant damage and companies - especially in the engineering sector - had undergone profound changes during the war, taking on dimensions and incorporating activities that were no longer sustainable in times of peace. Finmeccanica - the new State holding company created by IRI for the mechanical engineering and shipbuilding industries - had been entrusted with the difficult task of restoring a future to these companies.
The years of the economic boom and the birth of Aeritalia
Finmeccanica was a leading player in the rapid industrialisation of the early 1960s in the automotive sector, thanks to the advent of mass motorisation, and in the thermo-electro-mechanical sector, as a result of national development programmes in the energy and transport sectors. From the second half of the decade, the Group moved towards a higher concentration in sectors in which technological content was strongest: automotive, thermo-electro-mechanical and aerospace.
The energy crisis and early internationalisation
The 1973 energy crisis triggered a process of recession that would condition the world economy for many years. The increase in the cost of money and the crisis in reference markets led Finmeccanica to undertake a thorough review of its industrial policy. The 1976 strategic plan sets out the main objectives: recovery, internationalisation and a competitive dimension, which also means giving up on many marginal activities and a series of company disposals, to concentrate on the electro-mechanical and aerospace sectors.
The opening up of markets and the gamble on electronics
The long wave of the 1973 crisis, which particularly affected the automotive sector, with the market evolving in the direction of becoming more competition-friendly, was a signature feature of this decade: companies now had to address marked international competitiveness and start a process of acquisitions and alliances that within a decade would redesign entire industrial sectors. The stage was set for Finmeccanica to enter a new phase of national and international acquisitions.
Globalisation and Stock Exchange listing
The major changes of the early 1990s (end of the Cold War, cuts in defence and space budgets), the more pronounced globalisation and the ongoing reorganisation of the European aerospace industry, highlighted the strategic need to establish alliances to tackle the growing competition. On the back of its 1997 recovery and development plan, Finmeccanica launched a policy of agreements that helped boost its standing internationally.
The new millennium and international expansion
The beginning of the new millennium found Finmeccanica still engaged in forging major alliances and making acquisitions to strengthen its presence in what had become its core businesses: Aerospace, Defence and Security. These strategic choices changed the physiognomy of the Group, which, while maintaining solid foundations in Italy, was becoming increasingly international, both as a direct industrial presence and as a participant in far-reaching development programmes.
The market crisis and the road towards the new Leonardo
The 2009 financial crisis triggered a recession in the traditional aerospace and defence markets, with budget cuts and increased competitiveness. Finmeccanica launched new initiatives to cope with the changing scenario: partnerships in high potential emerging markets, review of the product portfolio, restructuring of certain business segments, divestment of non-core sectors. The process of change culminated with the One Company and the new name, Leonardo.
For more informations visit Leonardo Company corporate website.
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