Bombardier sells Belfast plant as part of $1bn deal

Bombardier is selling its Belfast manufacturing facility to Spirit AeroSystems as part of a deal valued at over $1bn.

The custom-built Belfast wing assembly plant is a fully-digital factory

Along with Short Brothers in Belfast, Spirit AeroSystems is also taking ownership of Bombardier’s operations in Casablanca, Morocco and a maintenance facility in Dallas, USA for $500m.

The Wichita, Kansas headquartered company said it would assume approximately $300m in pension liabilities, and approximately $290m of government grant repayments.

At closing, Spirit AeroSystems will pay $500m to Bombardier and will make a cash contribution of approximately $130m towards the pension liability, for total cash at closing of $630m.

"The Bombardier operations bring world-class engineering expertise to Spirit and add to a strong track record of innovation, especially in advanced composites," said Tom Gentile, Spirit AeroSystems president and CEO. "Belfast has developed an impressive position in business jet fuselage production, in addition to the world-acclaimed fully integrated A220 composite wing. This acquisition is in line with our growth strategy of increasing Airbus content, developing low-cost country footprint, and growing our aftermarket business."

The acquired operations employ over 4,000 people across the three sites, the majority of which are in Belfast. The backlog of work includes long-term contracts on the Airbus A220 and A320neo, along with Bombardier business and regional jets.

In aerostructures and fabrication, the acquired business produces composite and metallic wing components, nacelles, fuselages and tail assemblies, along with high-value mechanical assemblies made from aluminium, titanium and steel. The acquired business also brings an aftermarket business that more than doubles Spirit's global reach.

The expected revenues of the acquired Bombardier operations will be approximately $1bn in 2019 and the transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2020.

Commenting on today’s deal, ADS chief executive Paul Everitt said: “The sale of Bombardier’s Northern Ireland facility announced today is welcome news for the highly skilled workforce in Belfast, the successful aerospace sector in Northern Ireland and the whole UK aerospace industry.

“Spirit AeroSystems is one of the largest aerostructures business in the world, and this deal sees them significantly expand their operations in the UK, while also opening up new opportunities for the Belfast facility to grow its business with the US and elsewhere.”

Following the transaction, Spirit will continue to supply structural aircraft components and spare parts to support the production and in-service fleet of Bombardier Aviation’s Learjet, Challenger and Global families of aircraft.