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Bombardier's search for light jet takes it to Grob

Bombardier is in talks with German aircraft manufacturer Grob over what is thought to be a potential partnership or even an acquisition similar to the 2001 Gulfstream takeover of Galaxy Aerospace. The Canadian manufacturer is thought to be targeting the Grob SPn all-composite light jet as a lead-in stablemate to its Learjet family, particularly the Lear 40XR.

Bombardier's hunt for a potential entry-level jet, should it be confirmed, is not unexpected as Flexjet, Bombardier's fractional ownership company, has made no secret of its desire to add a smaller "sub-Learjet" type to its fleet. Bombardier, which has also previously indicated a desire to grow its product offerings below the Learjet line, says it is "premature" to discuss the details of its negotiations with Grob. But it does acknowledge that talks are under way and says: "We are looking at different possibilities and partnering with them in terms of technology."

Bombardier and Grob are already linked through Swiss-based ExecuJet, which acts as a key sales agent and distributor for both companies. Grob and ExecuJet also share the same chief executive, Niall Olver. ExecuJet is regarded as Bombardier's most important sales outlet outside North America, having sold more than 90 aircraft. The company officially represents Bombardier in more than 30 countries and works closely with the manufacturer in a support function as well as operating a charter fleet predominantly comprised of Bombardier aircraft.

ExecuJet is also the exclusive worldwide sales agent for the Grob SPn, which was revealed at the 2005 Paris air show. The SPn, which first flew in July 2005, is expected to gain both European and US certification in 2007.

Grob is owned by Switzerland-based holding company Grob Aerospace. It is also seen as a leader in aerospace composites manufacturing technology, and could be a key strategic ally,given Bombardier's ambitions in this area.




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