Bombardier's future looks bleak, wealth manager says
David Baskin said if he were an employee he'd feel betrayed by the company
The president of a Toronto-based wealth management firm says he's not optimistic about the future of Bombardier after the company's share price fell more than 30 per cent last week following a disappointing financial report – and after three ratings agencies labelled the company's outlook as negative.
David Baskin says, if the Quebec and Canadian governments no longer wish to bail out the company, and if investors no longer see its stocks and bonds as attractive investments, then Bombardier will likely be left with two options: either try to sell portions of the business to pay its $9 billion debt or enter into an agreement whereby the company's creditors become its controlling shareholders.
Baskin called the latter the more likely scenario saying he isn't sure the company's divisions could sell for enough to pay off the debt.
"They bet the company really on the C series jets," Baskin said, "and now it's going to be worth zero for them. They don't have the financial resources to make continuing contributions to the project."
The company has also run into problems with its rail division, he noted.
Competence is now in question
"The mayor of New York called the Bombardier equipment supplied to the New York subway 'lemons,'" he said. "Here in Toronto we waited a long time for the new Bombardier streetcars to arrive, much too long in the estimation of our mayor. And in London, in the UK, they've run into enormous cost overruns and time overruns on their project to modernize the signaling system in the London Underground. So this is a company that has problems on all sides."
Bombardier has depended on billions of dollars in contributions from the governments of Canada and Quebec in order to keep going and keep the controlling families in charge, Baskin said, despite what he called "arguably gross mismanagement."
Now, he said, Quebec is likely to lose the aerospace jobs it had tried to protect.
Baskin anticipates the company will attempt to sell either its global business jet division or its rail division, he said, but he had reservations about the potential of the rail division.
It has a lot of contracts, he said, but a buyer would want to know if the contracts are profitable and if the company has the ability to execute them competently.
"That has suddenly become a major question," he said.
Asked how he'd feel if he was an employee of Bombardier in Thunder Bay, Baskin replied, "Everybody likes to take pride in working for a company whose products or services are good and well-reputed, and I would feel if I was a worker that I'd been somehow betrayed because that's not the reputation that Bombardier has at the moment."