POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Aug 2, 2011
The parent company of a city rapid transit contractor sought Monday to alleviate questions about the possible sale of a subsidiary that would produce rail cars for the system.
Finmeccanica said in a statement that the company "is pleased to reaffirm the company's full commitment to the Honolulu rail project."
"Finmeccanica … will work tirelessly to ensure the people of Oahu receive a reliable system at best value," the company said in the statement.
The city decided to award Ansaldo Honolulu a $1.45 billion contract being protested by losing bidder Sumitomo Corp. of America.
Mayor Peter Carlisle said the city will monitor the situation, but deferred to the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation. "Anything further than that at this point would be speculation," Carlisle said Monday before he left for Japan to bolstersister city relations. "We do need to see if it impacts our plans or not."
Last week, Finmeccanica Chief Executive Officer Giuseppe Orsi said he wants to restructure or sell AnsaldoBreda, one of Finmeccanica's two companies that make up Ansaldo Honolulu. This came after managerial and profitability worries, amid problems with contracts and difficult relations with customers.
Mufi Hannemann, the former mayor who was instrumental in shepherding the $5.3 billion project through state and city bureaucracies, said Finmeccanica's statement raises "legitimate concerns that need to be addressed."
He said while he was mayor, he was more aware about the track records of the other two bidders, Sumitomo and Canada-based Bombardier Transportation, than he was with Ansaldo.
Hannemann said the city must sign solid contracts if it wants to make the federal government comfortable in funding the project.
On Sunday, members of the rail authority said the issue will likely be discussed during its regular meeting Thursday, but in executive session since the board was unable to notify the public in its agenda.
Finmeccanica, a conglomerate partially owned by the Italian government, has said rail car production is not one of its priorities. But Orsi also said he prefers to restructure the company or sell it off, but not to shut it down.