Hawker Beechcraft sale to Chinese firm off

21 Oct 2012 – AAP –

Talks to sell Hawker Beechcraft’s operations to China’s Superior Aviation Beijing Co have collapsed and the US plane maker says it now plans to emerge from bankruptcy protection as a slimmed down company in the first quarter of 2013.

“Despite our best efforts, the proposed transaction with Superior could not be completed on terms acceptable to the company,” said CEO Steve Miller. “We are disappointed that the transaction did not come to fruition, but we protected ourselves by obtaining a $US50 million ($A48.41 million) deposit that is now fully non-fundable and property of the company.”

After emerging from bankruptcy the company plans to rename itself Beechcraft Corp and focus on its most profitable products.

Chairman Bill Boisture says the company will push for growth in its high-performance single and twin engine piston and turboprop aircraft, special mission variants, and multi-role light attack and trainer planes.

The company said it was evaluating other products, including the sale of some product lines or a closure of the entire jet business.

Superior Aviation chief executive Tim Archer did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Hawker Beechcraft filed for bankruptcy protection in May. The court approved exclusive talks with the Chinese firm that had offered nearly $US1.8 billion ($A1.75 billion) to purchase the company’s business jet and other aviation operations.

“It is easy to overrate China as an investor in this business and here was a company in real desperate straits – and they saw what they wanted to see no matter how unrealistic,” said Richard Aboulafia, an aviation analyst with Teal Group who had been sceptical of the proposed transaction with Superior since the talks were first announced.

Aboulafia is not optimistic now either about the ability of Hawker Beechcraft to sell its business jet lines, saying those operations involved too much risk and not enough reward. Conceivably someone could rescue the Legacy Hawker 800 series of aircraft, the best part of its’ business jet lines.

“The sad truth is that the part of the company that is saleable is the same part that is survivable alone – the aftermarket, the military, the King Air and propeller planes,” Aboulafia said. “You are dancing around the big elephant – which is their business jet lines – which look doomed.”

It was unclear what impact the possible loss of those manufacturing product lines would have on job numbers, but Aboulafia said at one time the business jet lines were the “overwhelming majority” of Hawker Beechcraft’s business.