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Corporate Feb 17, 2013

Chopper scam will not affect joint venture with AgustaWestland: Tata group

Hyderabad: The ongoing investigations in thealleged bribery case against AugustaWestland's helicopter dealwith India will not have any impact on the tie-up betweenTatas and the Italian chopper maker, said a spokesperson of the joint venture firm.

Finmeccanica-owned helicopter maker AugustaWestlandsigned an MoU in 2009 with India's largest corporate houseTatas for joint venture company - Indian Rotorcraft Ltd - inGMR Hyderabad Aviation SEZ Ltd here for AW119 helicopterassembly, completion and delivery to customers worldwide.

Representational image. AFP.

Representational image. AFP.

According to an official of IRL, the JV will startproducing the 8-seat AW119Ke light helicopter. The productionwill commence from 2014."IRL has no connections with the Indian Air Forcepurchase of AW101 helicopters. IRL does not envisage anyimpact on the proposed Joint Venture," an IRL official spokesperson told PTI in an email communication, when asked ifthe ongoing investigations will have any impact on the JV.

The official said the assembly activity of the choppersis slated to start in April 2014, and as per the agreement infuture IRL may sell the civilian choppers to Indian markets.

"IRL will export the assembled helicopters toAgustaWestland for it to sell to its customers. IRL businessremit does not include any selling activity for defence related entities.

"At a future date, IRL could sell these helicopters alsoto the Indian domestic civil market for civilian usage. Thisis in line with the proposed Joint Venture's stated intent tooperate only in the civilian market," the IRL official said.

The ground breaking ceremony of IRL for chopperassembling facility was held on March 14 last year in thepresence of Ratan Tata, former chairman, Tata Sons and BrunoSpagnolini, the arrested CEO of AgustaWestland.

AgustaWestland landed in controversies both in India andItaly following the allegations kickbacks to the tune of 362crore paid to some of the Indian officials.

The Indian government has issued notice to the Italianfirm asking it to explain within seven days the briberyallegations. The notice asked the company why the Rs 3,600crore-deal of 2010 should not be scrapped.

India has already received three of the 12 helicoptersand paid up to 30 per cent of the amount.After the arrest of Finmeccanica CEO Giuseppe Orsi in Milan on Tuesday in connection with the bribery charges, Indiahas put on hold the receipt of the remaining helicopters aswell as the rest of the payment.

PTI


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