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Ansaldo Honolulu's parent firm rethinking rail car business

By Gene Park

LAST UPDATED: 10:19 p.m. HST, Jul 29, 2011

Finmeccanica, the Italian parent company of winning rail car contractor Ansaldo Honolulu, said its rail car business needs "urgent restructuring," or else it may sell it off. 

Finmeccanica Chief Executive Officer Giuseppe Orsi said that he will make a decision on whether to restructure or sell AnsaldoBreda, one of the two Finmeccanica companies that form Ansaldo Honolulu, by the end of the year.

He cited "difficult" relationships with customers and difficulty in producing rail cars, and that the company must drive for "great efficiency." The rail car business has not been a focus for Finmeccanica, a conglomerate that specializes in defense systems. 

"It's really a matter to give to somebody who believes in that kind of product more than we do," Orsi said Thursday in a presentation to investors and analysts in London. 

Toru Hamayasu, interim executive director for the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation which oversees the city's rail transit plan, said today that the agency is monitoring the situation. 

Ansaldo Honolulu won the city's contract to design, build, operate and maintain the rail car system for as long as up to 2029. The contract went for $1.45 billion.

Ansaldo Honolulu is embroiled in bid challenges by losing bidder Sumitomo Corp. of America, who has filed an appeal with the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.

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