Czech government sees privatisation of manufacturer as ‘key task’ as it sets about restructuring industry

Czech Republic manufacturer Aero Vodochody is being prepared for privatisation en bloc in the new year, but the government says the buyer “must maintain its existing national commitments”.

Advisor to the Czech vice-prime minister for economic affairs Aleš Michl says the government regards the privatisation of Aero as a “key task” in the restructuring of the country’s aerospace industry. Selection of a management consultancy to handle the sell-off is “imminent”, he says.

“We expect the deal to be completed in the first half of 2006.”

Michl says the Czech industry is being promoted in four main areas: outsourcing and supply of components to EADS and Airbus; manufacture of light aircraft; research and development; and civil and military maintenance and repair. Aero’s portfolio includes manufacturing subassemblies for EADS/Airbus, Sikorsky S-76 helicopter airframe manufacture – now profitable – and co-development of the Ibis Ae270 single-engined utility aircraft with Taiwan’s AIDC. The L-159 light attack aircraft is no longer in production following delivery last year of the last of 96 aircraft, although marketing efforts continue.

It has emerged, however, that one of the main assets in which potential buyers of Aero are interested is its airfield, located just outside Prague and being eyed for development into a regional airport for low-cost airlines. Michl admits that one of the two interested buyers  is a consortium of “financial investors and industry”. This could provide the backing for developing the regional airport while meeting the need to support the Czech Republic’s L-39 trainers and L-159s.

 Around 2,800 L-39s were built for the former Warsaw Pact countries and there is still considerable maintenance and spares business. A contract to maintain Tunisian L-39s was agreed in mid-October and another for Algeria is reportedly in the pipeline.

 Aero’s debts stand at around $350 million, and will be a significant element of the privatisation negotiations. Operating profits rose to $28.5 million in 2004, mainly due to L-159 deliveries.


Source: Flight International