By Russ Niles, Editor-in-Chief
Although Superior Air Parts may well end up as the owner of most of Hawker Beechcraft, analysts who've now had a chance to sort through the issues facing the Chinese owners of Superior are cautioning that it's anything but a done deal. Possibly the biggest stumbling block is that there's a significant defense business embedded in Hawker Beechcraft as a whole and the federal government will demand assurances that no militarily sensitive technology or information is compromised. To accommodate that reality in the "exclusivity agreement" that was announced Monday, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that Superior will initially buy all of the company for $1.79 billion and then be "refunded" about $400 million representing the military business.
Because Hawker Beechcraft is in bankruptcy, there must be a competitive bidding process for the acquisition of its assets. Under this deal, Superior has 45 days to hammer out the details, while paying to keep production of business jets and propeller-driven aircraft going. Assuming the deal is done, Superior will be the opening bidder and other potential buyers will have the opportunity to outbid Superior. Among those who have been interested in Hawker Beechcraft are Cessna parent company Textron, the Carlyle Group, Embraer, Mahindra (of India), and another Chinese firm, New United. Political response has been muted so far, perhaps because of pre-emptive assurances from Hawker Beechcraft officials that Superior intends to maintain the facilities and jobs in Wichita and other U.S. cities. Some analysts questioned those assurances and Richard Aboulafia, of the Teal Group, said the notion of Superior, which currently builds piston engines and other aircraft parts, building business jets was "farfetched."