* Loss due to 993 mln euro writedown on U.S. unit
* CEO confirms company to sell assets to boost balance sheet
* Talks over sale of Anselmo Energia unit continue - sources
* Moody's puts company on credit watch
By Danilo Masoni and Paolo Biondi
MILAN/ROME, April 23 Italy's Finmeccanica
confirmed on Tuesday plans to sell assets as it posted
a net loss of 786 million euro ($1.02 billion) for 2012, mainly
because of a writedown of the value of its U.S. defence
electronics unit DRS.
In the first set of results under its new chief executive,
Alessandro Pansa, the state-owned defence contractor said it
could sell assets to beef up its balance sheet. It forecast a
decline in revenue this year and broadly stable core profit.
Finmeccanica, Italy's second-largest private sector
employer, is undergoing a tough restructuring to focus on its
core defence and aerospace activities and is battling to avoid
credit rating downgrades. Later on Tuesday Moody's put the
company on credit watch for a potential downgrade.
In a statement, the company said the writedown on DRS,
acquired for $5.2 billion in May 2008, was 993 million euros. In
2011 its net loss totalled 2.3 billion euros after a heavy
provision for its Boeing Co 787 contract.
During a press conference, when asked about asset sales,
Pansa said the group "will continue with our plans and will make
an announcement at the right time". He ruled out a sale of DRS.
Two people familiar with the situation said the sale of the
company's 55 percent stake in power engineering firm Ansaldo
Energia was going ahead, after being slowed down by Italy's
Italian business daily Il Sole 24 Ore reported on Tuesday
that the South Korea's Doosan was in advanced talks
to buy Ansaldo Energia, which is party owned by the U.S. private
equity firm First Reserve.
Finmeccanica said net debt was 3.373 billion euros at the
end of 2012 and forecast free operating cash flow would rise to
around 100 million euros this year from 89 million euros in
2012. Pansa said the group would return to profitability in
Delays in the asset disposal plan, drawn up by Pansa's
predecessor, had prompted S&P to cut Finmeccanica ratings to
"junk," while Fitch and Moody's rate the company at investment
The company's 2012 results, initially due in March, were
delayed after a bribery probe connected with the sale of 12
helicopters to Indian authorities escalated in February with the
arrest of former Chairman and CEO Giuseppe Orsi.
Finmeccanica helicopter unit AgustaWestland risks being
blacklisted in India as a result of the probe. That would be
another setback in a major emerging market, after talks with
Embraer SA to make helicopters in Brazil ended
without reaching a deal.
Finmeccanica shares have fallen 22 percent in the last three
months. Starmine gives Finmeccanica a forward price/earnings
ratio of 5.6 times, well below the range of 9.1 to 13.1 of its
peers. On Tuesday the shares closed up 4.6 percent.