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Bombardier 'exploring opportunities' with its buildings

Michael Ryan

Aerospace giant Bombardier has said it is "exploring potential opportunities" involving its Northern Ireland buildings as its CSeries project continues to exert pressure on the firm.

But a spokeswoman for Bombardier, which employs around 5,500 people in Northern Ireland, dismissed speculation that one of its Northern Ireland sites may already have been sold.

The Canadian-owned plane-maker has its main operations in east Belfast but also has a large site in Monkstown, formerly occupied by telecoms firm Nortel.

And it also has another site close to Derriaghy outside Belfast.

Analysts at Scotiabank yesterday predicted the company could run out of cash by the middle of next year due to the draining effect of its ambitious CSeries project.

More money is needed to produce the larger CS300 version of the CSeries jetliner - and sales of both the CS300 and CS100 have been slower than hoped.

The wings of the CSeries are made in Belfast in a project which is the biggest ever inward investment here by any international firm, at £520m - including a purpose-built factory for work on the wings.

But responding to speculation, a spokeswoman said: "We confirm that we have not sold any of our sites in Northern Ireland.

"We do, however, regularly review how to make our building assets work best for us and we continue to explore potential opportunities."

Last week news agency Reuters reported that the company was looking at the sale of a stake of all its business areas. It could sell assets outright, form joint ventures or seek private equity investment. The CSeries will enter service with airlines next year - three years behind schedule.

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

Belfast Telegraph