ITALY'S biggest defence company, Finmeccanica, which last year bought the former BAE Systems plant in Edinburgh, is expected to strengthen its presence in Scotland by acquiring a key air base near Perth.
Finmeccanica's AgustaWestland helicopter arm is regarded by insiders as "the only contender" to take over the Defence Aviation Repair Agency (Dara) base at Almondbank, which employs 270 engineers and skilled technicians.
Adam Ingram, the armed forces minister, effectively put a "for sale" sign over the base in November when he said the Ministry of Defence would investigate whether the base would work better in the private sector.
Between 40% and 50% of Dara Almondbank's work is for Finmeccanica.
The two renewed their relationship last year when the Italian group won a Â£300m contract to repair the Royal Navy's Sea King helicopters and part of the work was subcontracted to Almondbank, where technicians repair components.