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Aerostructures Giant Vought Facing Possible Bankruptcy

Triumph Group is preparing for potential bankruptcy proceedings of its Vought Aircraft unit, an aerostructures giant that provides major components for a number of business jets and airliners. Vought provides the wings for the Global 7000 and Gulfstream G650 and G280, as well as aerostructures for numerous other Gulfstream, Embraer, Cessna Citation, Bell, Boeing and Airbus programs.

On May 5, Triumph filed an 8-K document with the Securities and Exchange Commission stating that it has renegotiated its financial agreements with lenders, in part “to provide the Vought entities with greater financial flexibility to address their significant cash utilization relative to certain contracts.” The amended agreement provides Vought “with the option, if necessary, to commence voluntary insolvency proceedings within 90 days” of the effective date of the agreement, according to the filing. “Upon the commencement of such proceedings, the Vought entities would no longer be subsidiary co-borrowers under the credit agreement, and transactions between any of the Vought entities…will be restricted.”

The filing would come seven years after Triumph acquired Vought from the Carlyle Group in 2010 for some $1.44 billion in cash and stock proceedings. Triumph reported a nearly $1.3 billion loss for its Aerostructures group, which includes Vought, for its Fiscal Year 2016 that ended March 31, 2016.

Triumph pointed to slowing production for the 747-8 and G450/550 programs, but also charges it incurred on the Bombardier Global 7000/8000 program. The company took a pre-tax charge of about $400 million “related to the impairment of previously incurred development costs associated with the Bombardier Global 7000/8000 program due to the higher level of spending and delays experienced to date.”

Legal Action

Earlier this year, Triumph disclosed that it had filed a lawsuit against Bombardier over delays and escalating costs with the 7000/8000 program. Triumph is seeking $340 million from Bombardier, citing “Bombardier’s failure to pay to Triumph Aerostructures certain non-recurring expenses incurred…during the development phase of a program” and specifying “Bombardier-directed changes to the original wing requirements for the Global 7000 program.”

Bombardier in 2015 had cited issues related to the Global 7000 wing as a factor in its decision to delay the aircraft program. It said the Triumph claim was “without merit” and the company intended to firmly defend its position.The airframer said, “At the appropriate time, Bombardier will assert its major claims against Triumph for losses sustained due to the program schedule revision announced in July 2015.”

At the same time, though, both companies maintained that they continued to work cooperatively on the Global 7000 program. The filing of a potential bankruptcy proceeding, however, brings more bad news for the Global 7000, as the program has begun to gain momentum. The ultra-long-range jet is among the linchpins for the future of Bombardier. While Triumph did not specify Bombardier in stating its need for “flexibility” in certain contracts, the proceeding could create further uncertainties in the already disputed arrangement between the two companies.

Asked about the potential filing during a recent analyst call, Bombardier president and CEO Alain Bellemare declined to comment on the Triumph announcement, but said, “We continue to have the right kind of communication and dialogue between us.” He added that “were at this point of time still very confident, were going to find the right solution.”

Bombardier officials would not speculate on what a bankruptcy would mean to Vought’s programs in the long term, but noted that they are still working to put their issues behind them as the 7000 continues to progress.

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