Daher seeks majority investor for new Socata jet, due 2010

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Daher-Socata intends to formally launch a new 10-seat, twin-engined jet early in 2010, but will proceed only if it can find programme partners prepared to finance most of the required investment.

The company indicates that it is prepared to finance only one-third of the programme cost, estimated at €250 million ($324 million). "We are looking for partners for the other two-thirds," it says. A decision on the programme will be taken "probably not by the end of the year", but rather at the "beginning of 2010".

In January, French industrial group Daher completed the acquisition of a 70% stake in Socata - a manufacturer of aerostructures and single-engined personal and business aircraft - from EADS. Daher's aerospace activities have since been reorganised into a new division named Daher-Socata, while a separate division will handle nuclear and defence activities.

daher socata
 © Daher Socata

The prospective new jet, which has already been pitched to the French military, would supplement Socata's range of smaller TBM single-engined turboprops, of which the TBM 850 is the latest variant.

In March, French state investment fund FSI acquired a 17% stake in Daher, subscribing to an €80 million capital increase along with two funds managed by Ace Management, which will split a 3% stake. This new capital will part-fund a €300 million investment to be made over a period of "three or four years" across the nuclear, aerospace and defence sectors.

This follows an earlier phase of investment in which €250 million of internally generated Daher funds were directed to acquisition of the Socata stake, the opening of new plants in Australia and Mexico, and financing of non-recurring costs arising from Airbus A350 programme involvement.

The Daher group expects its turnover to grow from €609 million year in 2008 to €1.2 billion in 2009. However, it has lowered its forecast of 2009 turnover from €930 million to €850 million, as a result of the economic crisis, which caused "roughly 50%" of scheduled Socata deliveries for the year so far to be deferred.