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Aircraft's future now secure, but NI may lose in long run

By Andrew Webb

Published 30/10/2015

'Too big to fail' is a phrase that we often associate with the banking crises, but it helps explain some of the logic behind the Quebec Government's latest US$1 billion investment in Bombardier.

We know how important the company is to our economy, but Bombardier's operations in Canada dwarf our local operation.

In Quebec, 20,000 people rely on the company for employment.

In addition, the Quebec Government pension plan is already the third largest shareholder in Bombardier, holding more than 41 million shares in the company.

For Quebec, this new deal, which results in a 49% ownership in a new joint venture to get the CSeries to market, looks like it was an easy decision when considering how embedded Bombardier is in its economy and fears over potential bids from foreign investors or hedge funds.

Quebec's latest move is certainly large in the context of a one-off investment, but Bombardier is a past master at leveraging government support for its operations.

Some estimates suggest that the company has received more than $2bn in support from Canadian taxpayers over the past 20 years. Locally, the company is one of the largest recipients of Invest NI funding.

At this early stage it is difficult to say what this deal might mean for Bombardier in Northern Ireland.

As we know, Belfast builds the wings for the CSeries.

So, on the face of it, this is a good news story, as the future of the CSeries is much more certain.

In the longer term the Quebec Government deal contains a commitment to keep CSeries operations in the Canadian province for at least another 20 years.

Given the scale of investment being made by the Quebec Government, it would be difficult to foresee the region not snapping up any future Bombardier expansions.

For Bombardier Belfast, the news is to be welcomed, but I think winning new investment might have just got a fair bit trickier.

Belfast Telegraph

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