A senior official for Fincantieri has indicated the Italian shipbuilder will jointly bid with France’s Naval Group to offer its FREMM frigate to Canada.
The partnership between the European shipbuilders would represent a strong first step towards a merger, which is currently being discussed by the companies. Talks of a merger began after Fincantieri's takeover of the French STX shipyard.
Fincantieri general manager Alberto Maestrini addressed analysts earlier this month and said, "An example of this collaboration is the joint bid we intend to present to the Royal Canadian Navy for their [request for proposals] on the construction of 15 frigates."
The FREMM European multi-mission frigate is a joint program between France and Italy, which saw the vessels constructed for both the French Navy and the Italian Navy. Morocco and Egypt have also ordered the vessels, while Fincantieri is currently one of three downselected tenderers for Australia's SEA 5000 Future Frigate program.
CEOs of Fincantieri and Naval Group, Giuseppe Bono and Hervé Guillou, are set to be joined by two government officials from each country to form a committee to discuss plans of a joint venture.
"A steering committee with representatives of all the reference players in the operation is currently being formed, and by June of next year it will present a detailed road map to manage the integration process," Maestrini told analysts.
"This agreement represents a game-changing opportunity for us, as well as presenting exciting challenges. It will grant even greater stability to our group, confirming the strength of our diversified business model, not least because it is based on a long-standing business relationship that has been over 15 years in the making."
Maestrini also added the FREMM frigate would be well-suited for another lucrative program.
"We think it will also match perfectly the requirements put forward by the US Navy in their recent request for design proposals for the Future Frigate Program," he said.
Naval Group told Defence Connect a potential joint venure between the companies would not affect Australia's $50 billion Future Submarine Program.
"The Future Submarine contract was awarded to Naval Group (previously DCNS)," a spokesperson said. "The potential joint venture with Fincantieri will have no impact on the Future Submarine Program."