Bombardier may sell assets amid C Series crisis

Bombardier is seeking investors for its aerospace businesses and considering a sale of some operations, according to sources, as a turnaround plan at the Canadian aircraft-maker faces pressure from potentially crippling US tariffs on its marquee jetliner.

Bombardier may sell assets amid C Series crisis

The manufacturer is studying the disposal of assets including its Q400 turboprop and CRJ regional-jet unit, said the sources.

Airbus is among the suitors, with one source saying Bombardier is also open to partnerships with other aerospace companies.

CEO Alain Bellemare is trying to stop a cash drain after its C Series jetliner came to market more than two years behind schedule and over budget. Asset sales or investment deals in aerospace would raise money as Bombardier contends with newly imposed US import duties of 300% on the plane.

Bombardier also missed out on a merger of its rail-equipment business with Siemens’ operation after months of talks.

Bombardier employs about 4,000 people at operations across Belfast, of which 1,000 jobs are linked to the manufacture of parts of the C Series.

Deals on the Q400 or CRJ may add life to languishing products. In sales terms, the entire segment of regional aircraft, which seat between 50 and 90 people, garnered only 119 orders last year, down 50%.

“Bombardier has neglected these products for so long,” said Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace consultant at Teal Group. “These should be worth more and should be more desirable,” he said, adding that the Q400 may have an easier time finding a buyer than the CRJ line.

The turboprop and regional jet markets are largely duopolies, partly controlled by Bombardier.

The Q400 competes with planes made by ATR, which is owned by Airbus and Leonardo, while the CRJ jets go head to head with aircraft built by Brazil’s Embraer.

Bombardier is looking to break into the bigger jet market with the C Series, but delays and cost overruns prompted the company to accept a $1bn (€846m) investment from Quebec, plus another €254m from Canada. The company’s Global 7000 business jet has also been delayed.

Bombardier and Airbus, whose earlier talks on a potential business collaboration fizzled in 2015, declined to comment.

No final decisions have been made and Bombardier deliberations with potential partners may not lead to any transactions, the sources said.

The US Commerce Department recently imposed 300% tariffs against the C Series, saying Bombardier sold the narrow-body plane at less than its fair-market value after receiving government subsidies in Canada.

The decision followed a complaint by Boeing after Bombardier sold at least 75 of its planes to Delta Air Lines, a deal valued at over $5bn based on list prices.

The rail business has also raised funds in recent years.

In 2015, Bombardier sold a stake in the unit to Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec, Canada’s second-largest pension fund manager, for $1.5bn.

Last month, Siemens chose France’s Alstom as its merger partner in rail equipment, leaving Bombardier on its own to face the new European giant and Asian heavy hitters such as China-based CRRC and Hitachi of Japan.

Mr Bellemare has long talked about the need for Bombardier to improve margins of the Q400.

Bloomberg and Irish Examiner

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