Chinese state aircraft maker in tie-up talks to revive struggling Bombardier
China’s Comac and Bombardier have held talks on a deal that could inject new life into the debt-laden Canadian company’s passenger jet business.
The state-owned Chinese aircraft manufacturer is working with at least one bank on a tie-up that could involve it in making an investment in Bombardier’s commercial aerospace arm or taking a stake in the CSeries 100-150 seater passenger jet programme, according to people familiar with the discussions. “Everything is on the table,” said one. Access to the CSeries programme and its new-generation aircraft technology would boost Comac’s ambition to become a global aviation leader, competing with Airbus and Boeing.
The companies are understood to have been in discussions on a deal for some time, although no decision is imminent, the person said.
Comac did not respond to a request for comment. Bombardier also declined to comment.
The Canadian company, which has received nearly $3bn in publicly funded cash injections over the past two years, is exploring a similar industrial tie-up with Siemens for its rail business.
An attempt in 2015 to rescue the costly CSeries programme by injecting it into a joint venture with Airbus collapsed in acrimony.
The Chinese approach to one of Canada’s most-prized industrial assets comes after at least one other government-controlled Chinese company launched talks with the group, which have since ended.
Bombardier has sought partners in its aerospace and transport divisions to mitigate the unexpectedly high costs of bringing its CSeries passenger jet into service, with the programme running billions over budget.
The jet is widely acknowledged to be highly efficient but it has struggled in recent months to win big new orders, with both Boeing and Airbus cutting prices on their smallest aircraft.
In recent weeks Comac has launched a test flight of its first short-haul commercial passenger aircraft aimed at competing with Airbus and Boeing. But the C919 is still mainly an assembly of parts from other foreign manufacturers.
Comac and Bombardier have been close for years. In 2012, the companies signed an agreement to find common features between the C919 and Bombardier’s CSeries to reduce training and maintenance costs.