On 11 April 2019, the Italian defence giant Leonardo inaugurated its new office in Islamabad, Pakistan in the presence of corporate and public officials, including Leonardo International CEO Dr. Lorenzo Mariani, Leonardo CCO Dr. Marco Buratti, and the Italian Ambassador to Pakistan Stefano Pontecorvo.
The office will headquarter Leonardo’s operations in Pakistan. In fact, it is basically a branch of the vendor – i.e., Leonardo Pakistan – with its own leadership and chairman, Dr. Maurizio Facchin.
Following the inauguration, Leonardo Pakistan met with Pakistan’s Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Adm. Zafar Mahmood Abbasi, the Chief of Air Staff (CAS) Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan, and the Minister of Defence Production (MoDP) Zubaida Jalal Khan.
The inauguration makes Leonardo among a handful of Western defence suppliers to maintain a direct and official presence in Pakistan as a means for managing its activities and promoting its products. Others will typically work through a domestic agent or through a regional office in the Middle East.
The Leonardo Pakistan office is a part of a larger push by the Italian defence giant to boost its global sales efforts – the company reportedly planned to open 30 new offices by 2020-2022.
Overall, the office signifies that Leonardo sees Pakistan as a viable market and, in another sense, is willing to accept the consequences of setting-up an official presence in Pakistan.
The latter could result in losing the Indian market, especially as many other Western suppliers will temper their dealings with Pakistan to maintain a cordial relationship with India. However, it should be noted that Leonardo has been under an Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) blacklist since 2016.
In Pakistan, Leonardo is engaging on a range of fronts, including:
Though substantive, it appears that Leonardo is intending to expand its activities in Pakistan to a number of big-ticket requirements and opportunities. However, Pakistan’s precarious fiscal capacity will dampen the overall scope. It is unlikely ever requirement will materialize, but the fruition of one could be enough to warrant a success of Leonardo’s (albeit modest) investment in Pakistan thus far…
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