The Czech government is to wrest control of bankrupt Czech aircraft manufacturer Aero Vodochody from Boeing, after growing increasingly frustrated with the companies' fruitless five-year relationship. Finance minister Bohumil Sobotka says he will cancel state guarantees on bank loans to Aero worth CKr9.3 billion ($356 million). Instead, the state will pay off the debts - 75% of the company's total burden of CKr12 billion - by the middle of 2004 in exchange for an increased share in the company. At present Boeing owns 35%- the rest is held by the Czech state - but this would be reduced to 10% under the plan.

The government will also begin talks with the US company on restructuring the company's board. Three out of the five seats are controlled by Boeing, under a 1998 deal which has failed to bring the company the hoped-for international sales (Flight International, 10-16 February).

Industry minister Milan Urban says the talks will be complicated, and warns that the Czech government will also have to pay Boeing CKr1 billion in compensation. Urban favours restructuring Aero to attract a new strategic investor from either the military or civil aviation sector.

Meanwhile, Boeing-ousted Aero Vodochody chairman Antonín Jakubse. Jakubse, who remains as president, told local press that he had been removed because "the head of Boeing Ceská [Tom Ryan] decided he doesn't want to work with me any more", even though "the solutions that I stand behind and which are good for the company were supported by two other representatives of Boeing Ceská on the board of directors".

Source: Flight International