'No assurances' deal to buy Bombardier will be completed by deadline

Spirit Aerosystems agreed to buy Bombardier's Belfast business in October 2019. Picture by Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Ryan McAleer

THE US company which agreed to buy Bombardier’s Belfast operation last year has said “there can be no assurances” that a number of outstanding conditions holding up the completion of the deal will be met by the October 31 deadline.

Kansas-based Spirit Aerosystems announced deal worth around $1 billion to buy the Canadian transport giant’s aerostructures business in Belfast and Morocco in October 2019.

The deal was expected to be completed by May 2020. But in a regulatory filing in the US, the aerospace group raised doubts that the acquisition will be completed in time.

According to aviation news website Flight Global, the Bombardier deal’s conditions, “some of which remain outstanding”, include terms related to “material adverse change” to the Bombardier commercial aerospace businesses.

Other conditions relate to “legal impediments” and “third-party consents”, says Spirit’s regulatory filing.

Bombardier’s Belfast operation manufactures wings for the Airbus A220. The company had developed plans before the pandemic to expand its wing production facilities in east Belfast.

The comments by Spirit came as the Wichita-based company said it expects a $420m deal to buy Belgium’s Asco to fall through.

Spirit said the European Commission is unlikely to approve the purchase by the October 1 deadline, adding that it did not intend to extend the deadline.

The news appeared to put a dent in Bombardier’s shares on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

The company, which had employed around 3,300 core workers during the lockdown in east Belfast, Dunmurry, Newtownabbey and Newtownards.

But in June, it announced that 600 permanent and agency jobs would go as a result of "extraordinary industry interruptions and challenges caused by Covid-19".

Bombardier said 400 core jobs will go over 2020 and into 2021, with another 200 agency roles cut.

The company announced a further 95 redundancies in August.

Aircraft seat manufacturers Collins Aerospace in Kilkeel and north Armagh based Thompson Aero have also announcement significant redundancies in response to Covid-19’s impact on the sector.

Over the weekend, the Unite union warned that some 1,800 jobs are under threat within the north’s aerospace industry through the end of the furlough scheme and the ongoing crisis facing aviation.

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