Beechcraft is nearing completion of the sale of its shuttered Hawker 4000 and Premier aircraft lines along with tooling and associated facilities.
The company has long maintained that it had hoped to close on the sale of those programs by year’s end, and confirms that it is still on track this month.
Beechcraft has been weighing bids and in negotiations for the sale since July. The company has not said whether the lines would go to a would-be manufacturer or service entity. But CEO Bill Boisture has maintained that it would be unlikely that production of those aircraft would restart under new ownership.
He has estimated that such an effort would take up to five years and an investment of $200-$300 million, and that “unless there was a strategic national [interest], you probably wouldn’t undertake it.” Boisture has instead pointed to the possibility of a support company to maintain the existing fleet of 400 Premiers and Hawkers 4000s.
While Beechcraft works to tie up the sale of the programs, speculation continues about the sale of Beechcraft itself. Reports surfaced in October that Beechcraft had instructed Credit Suisse to approach prospective buyers.
Beechcraft is still not commenting on those reports, with executives privately expressing concern about making sure any move the company makes is first discussed with an employee base that just weathered a company bankruptcy.
But Boisture last summer noted to Aviation Week that three of the company’s major shareholders are those that specialize in distressed properties. In those cases, he said, the question comes up as to whether they’re long-term owners. “I wouldn’t think so,” he said.
Textron continues to surface as a possible prospective buyer. Shortly after speculation of a Beechcraft sale emerged, Textron Chairman Scott Donnelly reiterated that parts of Beechcraft remained of interest. But he refused comment on a possibility of talks, calling those reports “rumors.”
Analyst JPMorgan notes that Textron has confirmed its interest on “multiple occasions” and says “we continue to believe that Beechcraft would be a good fit with Textron’s Cessna operations.” Beechcraft could add $150 million in operating income with possible expansion if revenue grows. The analyst also believes a merger could yield between $100 million-$150 million in cost “synergies.”