Home » Rome curbs Chinese reach over Italian drone maker

Rome curbs Chinese reach over Italian drone maker

Having gone after China’s companies over the Alpi Aviation dossier, the Italian government greenlit the founder’s share buyback plan on two conditions: prohibition to sell to the Hong Kong-based company currently owning them, and obligation to keep the PM’s office informed going forward

The government uses (again) its special powers on Italian drone maker. As our sister website reported, the Prime Minister’s office has exercised its “Golden Power” by conditionally approving Moreno Stinat’s request to buy back 75% of the company he founded and chairs, Alpi Aviation, according to a decree signed by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni on September 22.

  • Those shares were acquired in 2018 by a Hong Kong-based company, Mars (HK) Information Technology Co. Limited, and both parties failed to notify the government – in violation of the Golden Power legislation.
  • Seeing as Mars was a shell company for two major Chinese conglomerates, China Corporate United Investment Holding (CCUI) and CRRC Capital Holding – headed by CRRC Corporation Limited –, the former Draghi government had prescribed that the shares return in Italian hands.

It’s strategic. The illicit transfer of Italian military and technological know-how is at the core of the Alpi Aviation matter. The United States sanctions CRRC Corporation for its involvement in China’s civil-military fusion strategy, which promotes the People’s Army’s modernisation goals. Its decision to acquire the Italian drone maker through a shell company was conceivably driven by the desire to obtain the company’s intellectual property.

  • According to Guardia di Finanza investigators, upon acquisition, Alpi Aviation was valued 90 times more than its nominal value (€3,995,000 million instead of €45,000).

In previous episodes: in mid-July, following an investigation by our sister websiteDecode39 reported that Mr Stinat had pledged to sell his shares to Mars Technologies as a form of guarantee. The conditions imposed by PM Meloni’s latest decree stipulate that the two parties must keep her office periodically updated on the future of Alpi Aviation, which is now looking for a new buyer, and that the Chinese company must not repossess its shareholding.

  • In response to the investigation, Mars Technologies had explained that its purchase of Alpi Aviation had been “dictated exclusively by considerations of economic opportunity”, stressed the operation’s legitimacy and denied having accessed the dromemaker’s know-how.
  • “The innocent delay in the sale, the need for a form of guarantee in the presence of a transfer without consideration, the impossibility in any case of Mars regaining possession of the share, and in general, the absolute transparency of the parties in handling this difficult transaction have been acknowledged,” remarked Claudio D’Agostino, a lawyer at DLA Piper who acted on behalf of Mars.

What happens next. Having received the green light from the PM’s office, Alpi Aviation may now look for a new buyer. Notarial documents reveal that Red Fish Long Term Capital S.p.A. (a holding company founded in 2020 by Paolo Pescetto and Andrea Rossotti, together with the Bazoli and Gitti families) has shown interest in acquiring it.

  • However, there are some more question marks over the entire operation. For instance, Alpi Aviation no longer has the authorisation to use the La Comina airfield, which is very close to the USAF base in Aviano, which it used (according to the GdF) thanks to the “shielding” provided by a Pordenone-based non-profit organisation – a highly revealing factor for a company operating in that sector.

Subscribe to our newsletter