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Bombardier silent about selling stake to fund CSeries plane

By John Mulgrew

Published 02/10/2015

Delayed: Bombardier CSeries
Delayed: Bombardier CSeries

Aerospace giant Bombardier has refused to say whether any stake in its east Belfast base could be sold off to help fund its CSeries jet series.

There has been speculation that the Canadian-owned business is exploring the sale of a stake in arms of the company.

In May, the manufacturer said it was launching an initial public offering for a minority stake in its rail unit, Bombardier Transportation.

But a source has since told the Reuters news agency that "everything is on the table".

Bombardier is one Northern Ireland's biggest employers, with a staff of around 5,500.

Its base in east Belfast is one the key development centres for the long-awaited CSeries jet series, producing the wings.

The project, which is worth £520m to the company's division in the city, is the largest inward investment project in Northern Ireland's history.

According to Reuters, two sources said Bombardier's board was expected to meet during the next few days, but it was not immediately clear what would be on the agenda.

A spokeswoman for Bombardier said: "We will not discuss our activities in this regard or speculate on the potential outcomes."

The CS300 aircraft was put on display in Belfast in June, after flying in from the Paris Air Show.

The jet received a special water salute on arrival at Belfast City Airport.

The company's Belfast base has had its ups and downs in the last few years, with hundreds of jobs being cut and ongoing delays to the CSeries jet.

In May this year, the aerospace giant revealed it was cutting at least 220 staff.

The CSeries will enter service with airlines next year - three years behind schedule.

This summer, Bombardier's Belfast chief Michael Ryan said its CSeries passenger plane was still on flight for success despite slow sales. It has received 243 firm orders.

Bombardier saw its financial fortunes reverse last year, with losses of around £1bn, following its decision to suspend production of the Learjet 85.

"If the CSeries is to be continued, then Belfast will be continued," economist John Simpson said. "You can't shift or move them very easily, so I think Belfast would stay.

"But there are question marks over the CSeries. The hope was that once the test flight happened, those interested would place their orders.

"There is a considerable concern building up about it. If the CSeries collapsed, then the factory in Belfast, would it be of interest to other big airlines?"

Belfast Telegraph

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