Stephenville airport authority says it's waiting for formal purchase offer from Dymond Group

The president and CEO of the Ottawa-based corporate group that has big plans for the Stephenville airport says he expects the deal to close by the end of this month, but the airport authority stresses that no sale has been finalized.

Company CEO says due diligence done, acquisition expected to close within weeks

Dymond Group of Companies president and CEO Carl Dymond announced big plans for the Stephenville Airport at a media event held Sept. 9. (Troy Turner/CBC)

The president and CEO of the Ottawa-based corporate group that has big plans for the Stephenville airport says he expects the deal to close by the end of this month.

But the airport authority is stressing that no sale has been finalized, and it has yet to receive any formal offer from the Dymond Group of Companies.

And while the Stephenville Airport Corporation says it remains interested in the transaction, "at this point in time the ball is squarely in Dymond's court while we await the presentation of a formal offer to purchase."

In September, the Dymond Group and the Stephenville town council announced the pending sale of the struggling airport.

At the time, CEO Carl Dymond said his company planned to invest $200 million in airport infrastructure and the community.

Dymond said there would be a 120-day grace period to "finish off the final purchase, sale agreements" related to the transaction.

That time period has now ended, but a final deal has not yet been inked.

"We're finished due diligence now," Dymond told CBC News this week.

He said the company has been in touch with the airport authority about finalizing the deal.

"A couple last-minute questions here and there to make sure we got the paperwork right, and then we're hoping to have this signed off in the next week and a half, two weeks at the most," Dymond said.

Offer 'will be evaluated on its merits,' authority says

In an emailed statement, the Stephenville Airport Corporation said one of its primary concerns is ensuring the facility will continue to be operated as an airport.

"Any plans Dymond might have for development are secondary considerations," said the statement from chair Trevor Murphy.

"If any sale is to take place it's going to be contingent upon all financial obligations being met by the purchaser and determination that the sale is in the best interests of the corporation."

There’s little activity happening at the Stephenville Airport these days, while details of a potential sale are being negotiated with the Dymond Group of Companies. (Colleen Connors/CBC)

The statement noted any offer to purchase "will be evaluated on its merits" once it's received and the corporation addresses "any issues that were gleaned through the due diligence process."

Huge plans outlined in September announcement 

In September, huge plans accompanied the announcement of the sale.

While an exact sale price has not been disclosed, the Dymond Group said it would, as part of the deal, build a new fire hall in Stephenville, with a reported value of $10 million, and replace the tower at the airport. 

Future plans include the manufacturing of 80-foot-long cargo drones. Dymond says he has already pre-sold some of these drones.

During the fall, Dymond said work was underway to secure commercial airline routes. He said this week that's still in the works, and two airlines have signed on, but he's not ready to announce details yet. 

On the job front, Dymond says they are hiring contractors, with plans to bring 50 employees on board in early February. Things, he says, will ramp up from there.

"We're looking at 1,500 people to start in March and April," Dymond said.

Mayor urges patience 

Stephenville Mayor Tom Rose says he had hoped to see more tangible signs of progress at the airport by now but urged residents to remain patient.

"The biggest thing here is it's going to take time," Rose told CBC News.

"Development for where they want to see it is six to seven years. That's from when they made the announcement on Sept. 9."

Stephenville Mayor Tom Rose expects the town to reap big benefits from the Dymond Group's plans for the airport. (Colleen Connors/CBC)

He says the Dymond deal will bring more revenue and people into the area.

"These are going to be good living wages, good-paying jobs, solid continuous, an aerospace deal for Stephenville," he said. "We need to get projects like this moving."

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