Mitsubishi Heavy in talks to buy Bombardier's CRJ program

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Bombardier is seen during the Latin American Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition fair (LABACE) at Congonhas Airport in Sao Paulo, Brazil August 14, 2018. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd, which has been developing its own regional jet program, said on Wednesday it was in talks to buy Bombardier Inc’s CRJ aircraft business.

The comment followed a report by Air Current that Mitsubishi Heavy was in advanced negotiations with Bombardier and that an announcement could come as soon as the Paris Air Show, which starts June 17, if a deal is finalised.

Mitsubishi Heavy told Reuters by email that it was in discussions but that no decision had been made.

The Canadian planemaker has said it is aiming to make a decision on the future of its money-losing CRJ regional jet program this year.

The company is exploring “all strategic options” for the program including a potential sale, Bombardier Chief Executive Alain Bellemare told Reuters in January.

The talks come amid a legal challenge between the two companies.

The Montreal-based company sued Mitsubishi Heavy unit Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp last year, alleging that former Bombardier employees passed on trade secrets to help with the development and certification of the company’s new MRJ regional jet.

In a counter suit, Mitsubishi said Bombardier had tried to coerce it and Seattle-based Aerospace Testing Engineering & Certification (AeroTEC) to sign no-poach agreements that would stop them from hiring Bombardier’s employees.

Mitsubishi’s regional jet program has been delayed by several years, with first customer ANA Holdings Inc now expecting delivery in 2020 rather than in 2013 as originally planned.

Reporting by Chris Gallagher and Maki Shiraki; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

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