Design and production of propulsion systems for space launchers and satellites
Transaction value
€2,570 million
Dec 2006
Apr 2017

The Avio Group is an international leader in the space launcher sector and in spacecraft propulsion. Space propulsion is now Avio's sole focus, following the €3.3bn sale of Avio's aviation business to GE in December 2012.

Avio has five sites in Italy, France and French Guiana, and employs more than 700 people. In 2014 its revenues exceeded 220 million Euros. The Avio Group is responsible for the Vega launcher, with its subsidiary ELV (which is 30% owned by the Italian Space Agency, the ASI) as prime contractor.

Strategy and Progress
Since Cinven's acquisition of Avio in 2006, the investment has achieved many of its strategic goals, including the attainment of operational improvements and internationalisation of the business.

For instance, with the assistance of Cinven's Portfolio team in Asia, Avio's aviation business, which designs, manufactures and services components for commercial and military jet engines, achieved joint ventures in Asia, with two Chinese state-controlled aerospace businesses Avic Harbin Dong'an Engine and Xian Aero Engine. The company also expanded in Latin America with the acquisition of Focaleng in Brazil.

These achievements culminated in the sale of Avio's aviation business, to GE for a total consideration of €3.3 billion.

Today the Avio Group is Europe's leading space propulsion company, with a strong heritage in the design and construction of solid and liquid propellant propulsion systems for space launch vehicles and for tactical propulsion. For instance, the company created the liquid oxygen turbopump for the Vulcain cryogenic engine, and the two lateral solid propellant motors for Ariane 5, the first stage of the Aster 30 anti-missile defence missile. To date, Avio solid propulsion has been used successfully in all of Ariane's over 220 launches, and in all of Vega's launches. 

Avio's space business has won a number of major contracts for the 'Vega' space launcher, produced by the company as part of a European Space Agency programme. In February 2014, Avio Space signed a contract for the French-Israeli satellite Venus and the Italian satellite OPTSAT 3000. In October 2014, the company secured an order of 10 Vega launchers from Arianespace. In March 2015, the company signed a contract to launch a block of Skybox Imaging satellites from the Guyana Space Centre in 2016.

Avio will build the new VEGA C launcher and will contribute towards the building of the new Ariane 6 launcher with new solid motors and Vinci and Vulcain liquid oxygen turbopumps. 

Meanwhile, in the satellite field, the Avio Group has created propulsion subsystems for the ESA and ASI to place in orbit and control over 30 satellites, including most recently SICRAL and Small GEO.

In March 2017 Cinven fully realised its investment in the business,  completing the sale of Avio Space Propulsion to Space2 and Leonardo-Finmeccanica. As a result of this transaction, Avio will be listed on the Milan Stock Exchange.