Avio aerospace CEO says crisis holds possibility

Francesco Caio heads Turin-based Vega rockets

Avio aerospace CEO says crisis holds possibility

Rome, June 25 - For Francesco Caio, the CEO of Turin-based Avio aerospace group, the undeniably bad pan-European economic crisis can also create possibilities. "I don't want to sound as if, oh the future is fantastic and don't worry about the present - we have to take care of the present," the 56-year-old Neapolitan-born, internationally seasoned electronic engineer told ANSA. "But in Europe there is a tendency these days to almost be overcome, overwhelmed by the issue of the present and of the past. We are forgetting that we are at the dawn of a new, a completely new development cycle that we need to build and to create...but we are not at the end of history here," Caio said. Caio heads Avio, the principal contractor for the Vega rocket system designed to launch small satellites that will be driving the aerospace industry. In December, Avio signed a preliminary deal that will be decided on by Italy's antitrust authority July 2 to sell the Italian aerospace group to US giant General Electric for 3.3 billion euros. "Under the assumption that GE completes...the issue becomes the strategic fit within GE to understand the role we will be playing...but our part has already been sketched out. We will be a center of excellence for turbines to be completed in Turin," Caio said. While Italy is struggling under its longest recession in over 20 years, Caio sees a window of opportunity for development. "There are opportunities with new technology of bringing some of the manufacturing back and there is a shortage of digital companies here. Huge. If you look at reports...there is a new wave of robotics coming in, of biotech, pervasive connectivity between objects, energy needs to be completely reinvented, new materials, agriculture is being turned on its head, the ability to control the complete supply chain and logistics need to be reinvented, transportation...we haven't even scratched the surface," Caio said. The former chief executive of Cable & Wireless believes that Italian companies can attract investors not only with patents for technology, but also with their entrepreneurial strengths. "Patents are great, but first and foremost is the capability of the people at the top, the track record of the company and the prospects they have...and frankly I believe that there may not be many, but there are companies in Italy that could fit that bill," he said. However, the brain drain is a risk in Italy, he warns. "Our young workers are going where they perceive there is a challenge. Where there are objectives. We are paying to feed other markets and their competitiveness with our public debt," he said. "I'd try to stop it if I could," he emphasised. "There are huge social issues Europe has to face, but if we just focus on the problems without vision for the future then all of our efforts are just for the birds," he concludes.

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