The announcement was made today, 28 February 2011, that Cirrus Aircraft had been sold to China Aviation Industry General Aircraft Co. (CAIGA) of Zhuhai, China. CAIGA is owned by Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC), which is in turn owned by the Government of the People's Republic of China. Anyone who didn't see this coming just wasn't paying attention, as I noted in this blog when Continental was bought by the Chinese.
Of course the company people put the best spin possible on the sale. Cirrus CEO Brent Wouters said: "CAIGA understands the strength and the talent of Cirrus's workforce and the prominence of the Cirrus brand in general aviation. Through this transaction, CAIGA will invest in our employees in both Minnesota and North Dakota by committing to the continued use of our world-class production facilities."
Cirrus co-founder and present Chairman Dale Klapmeier said: "With this transaction, Cirrus will continue to develop and build the best, most exciting aircraft in the world. The original dream remains alive and well at Cirrus. We are just embarking on our next chapter on a global stage."
Of course the question everyone is asking is "will the jobs stay in Duluth and Grand Forks or move to Zhuhai?" Right now everyone is making reassuring noises. Meng Xiangkai, CAIGA’s President, stated: "CAIGA is dedicated to being an international leader in the provision of general aviation products and services, and light piston aircraft is one of CAIGA’s business focuses. We are very optimistic to begin our partnership with Cirrus and add Cirrus’s strong brand as the cornerstone in our aviation product portfolio. We are deeply impressed with Cirrus's performance in the global general aviation industry, especially with its consistent product performance, comprehensive safety features, outstanding management team, highly skilled employee base and advanced production facilities as well as its expanding global footprint. We look forward to working with Cirrus’s management team to build upon Cirrus’s proven success and to further expand production volume in order to cement Cirrus’s existing leadership position in the global general aviation industry, as well as to produce greater job opportunities in Duluth and Grand Forks."
28 February 2011
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I like the spin the company is putting on all this. I suppose the new Cirrus planes will use fuel refined from oil extracted from the Chinese-owned Alberta tar sands...
We should be grateful that there's someone, anywhere in the world, still willing (and foolish enough) to invest money in the GA piston manufacturing market.
I'm not particularly worried about Chinese ownership -- as Cessna and Boeing have shown, American-owned companies are quite as capable of sending production offshore.
Well that is very true! Cirrus has been courting replacements for Arcapita for four years and no other takers appeared!
People have feared that Textron might sell Cessna to the Chinese, but look who is building Cessna 162s regardless. I am not sure it would be a big change.
Russ Niles at AvWeb wades into the issue and decides that it is mostly positive:
China vs. the American Dream
Although as he notes the Duluth News-Tribune, called it "a sinking feeling of impending loss."
It turns out the price to buy Cirrus was US$210M
Is Cessna next?
Looks like one American investor is trying to raise some US capital to make a counter offer for Cirrus, although the company seems uninterested.
Cirrus on U.S. Bid: "No Comment"
It turns out there are more aircraft companies bought out by Chinese interests then most people think, Brantly Helicopters for instance.
This is a new complaint. A US congressman is urging the regulatory approval body examining the sale to China be very careful as he is concerned that company technology might be used by the Chinese for military purposes. Like the Chinese can't build aircraft out of fibreglass!
Congressman Warns About Cirrus Sale, by Russ Niles
Cirrus has responded to the US Congressman. Cirrus co-founder Dale Klapmeier, said: "...there are politics involved," so that brings an element of uncertainty. He said it was "disappointing" for the company when a Minnesota congressman, Chip Cravaack, raised questions about the deal due to national-security concerns. "His concerns are unfounded," Klapmeier said, adding that Cirrus doesn't have any unique technology that would be of use for military applications."
There is more news just starting to come out about why Arcapita may have been in a hurry to sell off their Cirrus holdings when they did. It is probably a good thing they sold it to AVIC International or else Cirrus could have joined them in bankruptcy, too.
* Arcapita In Bankruptcy, by Russ Niles, Editor-in-Chief, AVWeb
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