October 15, 2015

FIPB clears Tata-AgustaWestland chopper facility proposal in Hyderabad

The Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) has cleared the proposal to set up a chopper assembling unit by Indian Rotorcraft (IRL), a joint venture between AgustaWestland and Tata Sons.   The proposal to assemble AgustaWestland's AW 119Kx choppers has been hanging fire for over two years, with FIPB assigning no reasons.   Indian Rotorcraft has sought the nod to go for AW 119Kx as the helicopter model in place of AW 119Ke and change the foreign investor in the wake of an internal re-organisation through merger within the AgustaWestland group effective January 1, 2014.
  The proposal was approved by FIPB on September 11.   An IRL spokesperson had earlier remained non-committal on investments and the expected timeframe for the product rollout from the Hyderabad facility.  "IRL, the JV with AW (AgustaWestland), is for assembling AW 119Kx helicopters. IRL will export assembled helicopters to AW to sell to its customers. The JV is yet to begin operations," the spokesperson had said in an e-mail reply.   "IRL has no connection with the Indian Air Force purchase of AW101 helicopters."   IRL sought the FIPB clearance for changing the model of the helicopter to undertake the final assembly of AgustaWestland's helicopters to be exported to global consumers  or offered in India.
  IRL also requested FIPB to change the foreign investor from AgustaWestland, the Netherlands, to AgustaWestland, Italy, as the Netherlands company merged into its Italian parent firm with effect from January 1, 2014.
 The Finmeccanica-owned helicopter manufacturer, AugustaWestland had signed an MoU in 2009 with India's largest corporate house, the Tatas, to establish Indian Rotorcraft in GMR Hyderabad Aviation SEZ here.   The product form the Hyderabad facility was earlier expected to roll out in 2014.   Earlier, AgustaWestland was at the centre of controversies both in India and Italy following allegations of kickbacks to Indian officials to the tune of Rs 362 crore.


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