SAMSUNG OF South Korea has made an offer to receivers to purchase the bankrupt Dutch aerospace manufacturer Fokker.

Industry sources say that South Korean interest has firmed up in recent weeks, and a tentative offer has been made. Russian manufacturer Yakovlev is also continuing to discuss a possible acquisition.

The Samsung move comes as time is running out for Fokker, with any final deal still facing several major hurdles. Samsung and Yakovlev have made it clear that a buy-back of Fokker Aviation Services from saviour Stork is central to any rescue package.

Both bidders lack worldwide after-sales support structures and are keen to capitalise on Fokker's former maintenance and spares business, now called Fokker Aviation. The company maintains a support network covering some 225 international airlines since Dutch engineering company Stork acquired the business in the wake of the collapse of Fokker.

While Samsung has proposed maintaining production of the Fokker 70 and 100 twinjets in The Netherlands in the interim, there is continuing Dutch concern that future work will be lost overseas.

Samsung's long-term goal is to complete development of the Fokker 130 and build the new aircraft in South Korea.

The proposed deal has produced a division in South Korea's aerospace industry, with Korean Air and Daewoo Heavy refusing to become involved and opposing the allocation of Government funding.

The two concerns are leaning towards co-operating with Aero International (Regional) (AI(R)) or Saab on a 70-seater development. AI(R) chief executive Patrick Gavin confirms that talks have been held with South Korean industry, but is adamant that final assembly will be in Toulouse.

Saab has discussed several options with South Korea, ranging from 60 to 80 seats. The proposed new aircraft vary in configuration and include a four- and five-seat abreast cabin and turboprop and turbofan powerplants.

Source: Flight International