Hitachi submitted a non-binding offer on November 17 and a Chinese partnership of Insigma Group and XinZhu is also in contention, having entered the race after CNR Corporation pulled out. The Chinese are reportedly offering €1.5bn and a four-year investment plan.

Hitachi has reportedly offered to guarantee the retention of all Italian production sites and the current management, but is understood to be seeking assurances that it would not be liable for any penalties in the event of the late delivery of the fleet of 50 Frecciarossa 1000 high-speed trains currently being supplied to Trenitalia by AnsaldoBreda and Bombardier.

The deal is likely to be discussed at the next meeting of the Finmeccanica board on December 18.