Genoa - Fincantieri is setting its sights on the areas formerly occupied by Piaggio in Genoa’s Sestri Ponente district, which represent a chapter in the history of Italy’s industrial manufacturing. The 35,000-square-metre area, which is controlled by the Port Authority of Genoa-Savona, is currently partially occupied by the firm Phase Motion Control (PHASE), following the decision by Piaggio Aerospace - which in the early years of the past century was one of Italy’s first companies to specialize in aircraft manufacturing - to vacate the entire premises it had under concession, as it’s been buffeted by a protracted financial and industrial downturn.
Last week, the Port Authority Management Board - in view of the final allocation of the areas in question, which should be completed by the end of the year - announced that it had received new concession requests from three Ligurian companies (Cosmet, Cosnav Costruzioni Navali, and Eurocontrol), in addition to PHASE, for a total of €47 million in investments, and 133 new hires, which in part could include the Genoa-based Piaggio employees who are presently receiving stay-at-home pay (some 80 workers). The Port Authority Board has decided to keep the call for tenders open for a further two-month period, and if no competing proposals are received it will move ahead with assigning the concessions. But the fate of the 35,000-square-metre area might not be so easily sealed.
According to sources familiar with the matter, Italy’s shipbuilding giant Fincantieri is weighing its options on whether to present a concession request to the Port Authority. The move would allow Fincantieri to increase available space at its Sestri Ponente shipyard, which practically borders on what was, until last year, Piaggio’s Genoa facility. The shipyard is headed by Paolo Capobianco, who was head at Fincantieri’s Marghera and Monfalcone facilities. It would seem that the management at Fincantieri in Genoa have expressed to the firm’s HQ in Trieste, the importance of gaining the area’s concession; such a move would in fact allow the facility to grow considerably in size, including the extra acreage afforded by the approval of the Sestri shipyard’s plan to expand along the sea front.
At present, the facility can build ships of up to 115,000 gt, but the trend for ever-bigger ships, which also afflicts the cruise segment, means that ship owners are ordering larger ships than in the past, which could cause the Fincantieri Sestri shipyard to be left out of the game within a few years, in spite of the group’s large order book. A decision from Fincantieri on whether to submit an offer for the area is expected by September. The new areas, as Secolo XIX/The MediTelegraph has ascertained, could be made available to firms subcontracted to work on a ship’s construction. It could involve dozens of companies in related fields that, during the construction phase, could employ up to 2,000 workers, in addition to the shipyard’s 600 regular employees. The winning bid will be the one that presents the best industrial plan, also taking the redeployment of those Piaggio workers currently on stay-at-home pay into account, as well as any new recruitment.
“After new usage patterns are decided for those areas, which are no longer connected to the aerospace industry, and have been converted to another manufacturing purpose,” said Antonio Apa, Secretary General of Uilm-Genoa trade union, “it’s important not to waste time, and to proceed as soon as possible with the concession.” “The firms making use of these areas,” concluded the trade unionist, “will have to be responsible for the Genoa-based Piaggio workers, as per agreements taken in 2014 with the Italian government. Whoever ends up moving to Sestri cannot escape this obligation.”