China's AVIC Wins Epic Auction

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An Oregon federal bankruptcy judge will decide Tuesday if a company owned by the Chinese government will take over the remnants of Epic Air and the companies associated with it. The Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC)'s bid of $4.3 million cash was selected over two American bids by bankruptcy trustee Ken Eiler following a daylong auction at a Portland law office on Friday. Also in the running were the LT Builders Group, representing the owners of unfinished aircraft still inside Epic's Bend, Ore., factory, and Wichita-based Harlow Aerostructures. Doug King, one of the members of the owners' group, told AVweb Saturday that they're spending the next three days preparing objections to the trustee's decision, which must be confirmed by the court during Tuesday's hearing. King said his group's bid was actually $2.2 million higher than the Chinese bid but included $4 million in credit to the owners. He said the trustee chose China's bid because it was all cash. The builders are worried they'll never have a chance to finish their aircraft if the Chinese bid prevails and most have already paid more than $1 million in progressive payments on their $1.7 million kit-built turboprop LT aircraft.

King noted the Chinese state clearly in a letter to the trustee that they plan to ship "all assets" of Epic and the associated companies "back to China to develop, manufacture and service general aviation and enhance the value of the aircraft models" developed by Epic. However, in an interview with The Oregonian, Yan Yang, the lawyer representing the Chinese, said AVIC might consider other options. "They want to enhance the value of the brand in this country," Yang said. "They're open to suggestions and working with people interested in the same goal." King said her comments offered some comfort but the written submission from AVIC still stands as its official position. The bankruptcy court hearing starts at 9 a.m. Tuesday in Portland.