UPDATE 2-Italy's Leonardo says OK amid coronavirus, outlook unpredictable

Francesca Landini

* Leonardo takes actions to protect ops in Italy

* CEO says company has problems shipping helicopters

* CEO says too early to assess virus impact on 2020 outlook (Adds quotes)

MILAN, March 13 (Reuters) - Italian defence group Leonardo on Friday tried to soothe concerns about the potential impact of the coronavirus outbreak on its business, saying it had taken several actions to protect operations in its home country.

The company acknowledged however that the situation was unpredictable, adding temporary and selective halts to production could occur.

"Today factories are open, our helicopter plant in Vergiate (northern Italy) is operating, but, as we speak, the government is meeting with unions to discuss the coronavirus issue," CEO Alessandro Profumo said during a conference call.

Profumo said the company was experiencing problems with the shipment of helicopters and some other products.

The group has 38 production plants in Italy, which is grappling with the most acute outbreak of coronavirus in Europe with more than 1,000 deaths as of Thursday.

Since the first cases emerged at the end of February, the government has ordered extensive curbs to people's movements in the whole country and decided to stop activity in some airports.

The group said 8,000 employees were working remotely, adding it had intensified cleaning activities at its plants and organised operations as to allow workers to keep a one-metre distance.

At sites dedicated to satellite and cybersecurity businesses the group was applying even stricter rules to avoid contagion.

"We have two segregated teams working in parallel, they cannot meet anyone," Profumo said speaking about Fucino Space Centre in central Italy.

The CEO said it was too early to assess the impact of the virus on 2020 outlook, adding the group would update the market as soon as possible.

As Leonardo suspended business travel due to the virus, commercial campaigns were impacted, the CEO said, adding he could not rule out consequences on future orders.

However, in an update of its five-year business plan the group said that total orders would reach 80 billion euros by 2024.

Over the 5-year horizon, the group expects an average compounded annual growth of 4% for revenue and of 8% for earnings before interests, taxes and amortisation (EBITA).

On Thursday Leonardo reported revenue of 13.8 billion euros in 2019, up 12.6% year-on-year. (Reporting by Francesca Landini, editing by Stephen Jewkes and David Evans)

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