Business

Bombardier sells CRJ regional jet program to Mitsubishi for $550M

Montreal-based Bombardier Inc. has signed a deal to sell its CRJ regional jet program to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd.

Montreal-based company will maintain control of Quebec facility that manufactures the jets

A Bombardier CRJ-1000 sits on the tarmac in Farnborough, U.K. The company struck a deal to sell its CRJ business to Mitsubishi, it was announced Tuesday. (Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg)

Montreal-based Bombardier Inc. has signed a deal to sell its CRJ regional jet program to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd.

Under the deal, Mitsubishi will pay $550 million US in cash and assume about $200 million worth of debt and other liabilities related to the CRJ — an acronym for the Canadair Regional Jet.

The contract stipulates that the Japanese manufacturer take over the maintenance, support, refurbishment, marketing and sales activities for the jets, including services and support facilities in Montreal, Toronto, Bridgeport, West Virginia and Tucson, Ariz.

All in all, the CRJ business has about 1,600 employees worldwide. The plan is for Mitsubishi to keep about 1,200 of them.

One key asset Bombardier is not selling as part of the deal is the main CRJ manufacturing facility in Mirabel, Que., along with the roughly 375 people who work there. The company will need that plant and those workers to  continue to supply spare parts and manufacture the jets until the sales backlog of 42 jets has been cleared, which is expected to last until the second half of next year.

The deal comes as Bombardier, the transportation company known for making trains and jets, is in the midst of a massive overhaul. The company is selling off assets around the world and trying to raise cash to focus on its core businesses

As such, Bombardier has sold off its Q400 turboprop business, the C-Series, and now the CRJ.

Those moves mean Bombardier now basically makes business jets such as Challenger jets and Learjets, and trains.

"We are very pleased to announce this agreement, which represents the completion of Bombardier's aerospace transformation,"  CEO Alain Bellemare said.

"We are confident that [Mitsubishi]'s acquisition of the program is the best solution for airline customers, employees and shareholders. We are committed to ensuring a smooth and orderly transition."