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Fincantieri: Bono, Leadership strategies for Global sectors

MIB Trieste School of management. MBA Honoris causa diploma

02 December, 11:47
(ANSA) - TRIESTE, 01 DIC - "Leadership strategies for Global sectors. Fincantieri's challenge". This is the Lectio magistralis of CEO Fincantieri Giuseppe Bono, read during che deliver of MBA Honoris causa in International business at MIB Trieste School of Management on November 27, 2017.

How to tackle economic globalization? "When we speak about globalization,we mean the ever-increasing global interconnection between financial markets, commodity supply markets - and more generally the production factors (including human resources), as well as the end-product markets. This evolution of the economic world has prompted manufacturing companies to radically review their strategies in order to adapt to a ''new'' context, which is increasingly dynamic and complex.

Globalization can represent, on the one hand, a significant opportunity to develop the activities of a certain company or factory and, on the other, a potential threat to its survival, due to exposure to economic cycles influenced by ''global, and no longer local'' phenomena. The big challenge for Italian companies (Italy's manufacturing network is mainly composed of SMEs) is therefore to adapt to this new context by opening up or strengthening, if already undertaken, internationalization paths. The increasing importance of the dimensional aspect is therefore linked to the globalization of markets, therefore it is essential to Italian system to see its companies grow in size, ie the main groups in the country, which by driving the industrial excellence chains can represent a guarantee not only of continuity but also of further development of Italian SMEs and therefore of the maufacturing system as a whole.

In this regard, I would like to share with you my experience and the managerial choices that have made to prepare the companies I have led not only to adapt to new market situations but also to exploit them, in order to ensure a sustainable medium-long term growth path. In particular, I would like to bring to your attention the path that led Fincantieri to become a national producer, and a group that by size is the 4th biggest in the world (the first 3 are all South Korean) and the leading one in terms diversification and innovation, active in all segments of shipbuilding with high added value.

The Group has approximately 19,400 employees, of whom 8,200 in Italy, and about 80,000 satellite activities, several plants in four continents. It has thus become the leading player in the design and building of cruise ships with the largest and most diversified customer portfolio in the whole sector.

These are important achievements in an ever-global sector, confronting a complex scenario both in terms of competition and demand, through the adoption of a strategy focused on diversification and internationalization.

The first significant step towards the Group's internationalization was achieved through the acquisition of Manitowoc Marine's (today Fincantieri Marine Group) shipyards in the US in 2008.

This acquisition has allowed Fincatieri to step into the world's largest defense market, accessible - due to regulatory constraints - only for those who produce their goods within the country. This first step has paved the way for another important foreign operation abroad, namely the acquisition of the Norwegian VARD group in 2013.

This acquisition allowed: (a) a significant size increase (almost doubled the Group's turnover), allowing the group to compete with global players, (b) diversification of the product portfolio by stepping into the Oil & Gas sector.

The shipbuilding industry has recently undergone a period of severe crisis that has been the longest in the history of the sector; Fincantieri was able to cope with this situation, through a restructuring started in 2011, which led to a 20% reduction in the workforce (about 2,000 employees), but which allowed the engineering and production equipment to remain unaltered.

Getting back to diversification, combined with productive flexibility and sound engineering, as well as project management, this can help manage difficult situations in some markets, and in some cases can transform problems into growth opportunities in other areas.

A concrete case-history was the Oil & Gas crisis, which began with the collapse of the oil price in 2015, and hit every oil company. The exposure in this sector of our Norwegian subsidiary Vard prompted us to re-orientate the company's business on another Fincantieri 'core', with the aim of grasping synergies at Group level. - In my opinion, for a ''global'' industry it is of utmost important that we are able to design, implement and manage a ''platform'' in all its aspects (productive, engineering and project management). When I speak about a 'platform', I mean a complex product that is the result of the integration of different systems and components.

Unfortunately in Italy over time, in several industrial sectors, product platforms have been lost and this has significantly weakened our industrial system.

Concentrating in one area the productive activities of companies operating in a given chain could be a possible proposal to overcome the fragmentation of the Italian industry.

In this regard, the shipbuilding industry is one of the most important and most important sectors for the country's growth.

With the current record level of the acquired workload, Fincantieri will have, in the coming years, a 1% annual average ratio on Italian GDP, attracting significant foreign investments in Italy.

The downturns of the Italian SMEs are also extremely significant. Fincantieri makes in Italy about 80% of its purchases, corresponding to approximately 2.5bn euros annually, addressing a supplier network consisting of about 3,000 companies, mainly located in the regions where the Group's activities are located (Friuli Venezia -Giulia, Veneto, Liguria, Marche, Sicily and Campania).

An extremely important example is our entry as the first mover in the Chinese cruise market, through the establishment of a joint venture with CSSC (China State Shipbuilding Corporation), aimed at producing exclusively and specially customized cruise ships, for the Chinese and Asian market.

This joint venture represents one of the major industrial cooperation operations between China and Italy and will allow us to develop future partnerships between the two companies.

In-house ship building, as well as an appropriate protection of our company know-how, opens up a further end-product market to our supply network with significant benefits to Italy's satellite industries.

However, we have recently embarked on a new development path that goes through a process of European shipbuilding consolidation, which in my opinion is essential to further strengthen the world leadership of European industry. In view of this objective, the Italian and French Governments reached an agreement on 27 September to facilitate the creation of a more efficient and competitive European shipbuilding industry, sharing the objective of pursuing a strong alliance between the two countries both in the civil and military sectors.

By combining activities and strengths of Fincantieri, Naval Group and STX France, it will be possible to create a European 'champion' as well as the world's first exporter in the civil and military vehicles markets and with strong presence in systems and components.

The first step towards this historic alliance will be the acquisition by Fincantieri of 51% (1% is loaned by the French State) of STX France, and the simultaneous entry into the capital of STX France by Naval Group with a 10% share.

At the same time, the Italian and the French Governments will begin working on a broader military cooperation project, by defining, by the end of June 2018, the ''roadmap'' to implement such cooperation.

In conclusion I can summarize my speech in a few but significant key points: a company exists and thrives if it is able to offer what the market demands and goes where ''there is a market''; the external environment is strongly dynamic, companies must be able to understand the signs of weakness and opportunities; you cannot face a global market alone, you must look for alliances to be built as a ''union of excellences''; to successfully carry out a complex industrial project, you not only need cutting-edge expertise, technology and products, but also managerial management to the height of the situation; a leading company is managed by people who form a team; it is necessary to create a virtuous circle between finance, which goes fast, and the longer time horizons of the industry and the primary sectors". (ANSA).

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