Bombardier to sell Belfast facility in a major revamp - GulfToday

Bombardier to sell Belfast facility in a major revamp

Bombardier-Factory

Theresa May at the Bombardier factory in Belfast, Ireland. File/Reuters

Bombardier put its Belfast wing-making factory on the block as part of a wider shake-up, while the plane and train maker’s reluctance to say it would meet 2020 goals sent shares lower.

The Canadian company said it would unite its corporate and regional jet units, while selling off two aerostructures operations, including the Belfast plant, the largest high-tech manufacturer in Northern Ireland.

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May spoke to workers, accompanied by Michael Ryan, president of Bombardier Aerostructures and Engineering services division,  during a visit to the Bombardier factory in Belfast, Northern Ireland on February 12, 2018.

Bombardier’s retreat from Belfast comes at a sensitive time for the British government, which is struggling to agree a deal to leave the European Union, in large part because of disagreements over the future of the Irish border.

The plant and its 3,600 workers are an important constituency for Northern Ireland’s largest unionist party, the Democratic Unionist Party, which is propping up Theresa May’s minority government.

Stunned workers at the factory, just yards away from the shipyard that built the Titanic, urged the British government to ensure jobs were retained.

“It’s a shock to the system given what we have all been through. It’s taken a toll,” said Noel Gibson, a sheetmetal worker who has worked at the plant for 29 years.

The plant escaped major job losses last year, when Bombardier won a trade victory against US planemaker Boeing in a dispute that had threatened to slap a 300 per cent duty on sales of jets for which the plant supplies wings.

Bombardier Chief Executive Officer Alain Bellemare called the steps, including the sale of a separate Morocco facility that builds components for the company’s regional jets, “a strategic move”.

The two facilities generate about half of the $2.25 billion to $2.5 billion in revenues expected for the aero structures division in 2019, the company said.

Bellemare said he expects the sales to take several months.

Bombardier is shedding its commercial aviation businesses to focus on more profitable corporate jets and passenger rail cars. But the rail division, Bombardier’s largest unit, has faced recent headwinds because of delivery delays and production problems at a handful of long-term projects.

Investors were rattled last week when Bombardier cut its first-quarter and full-year revenue targets for the transportation division.

Bombardier expects to deliver nine trains this year as part of a long-delayed order to Swiss Federal Railways (SBB), Danny Di Perna, president of the transportation division, told Reuters.

Reuters