Bombardier Inc. has won support from bondholders on four of the eight bond issues it was targeting in its bid to quash a challenge by an investor who claimed the plane maker’s recent asset sales breached pledges made under its indenture. It is giving all creditors more time to respond.
Bombardier is locked in a dispute with an unidentified bondholder that claims its recent asset sales, including the divestiture of its train business to France’s Alstom SA, violated covenants on debt maturing in 2034. Analyst Dan Fong of Veritas has called it “a shakedown” by the investor that clouds the company’s turnaround and could lead to a default event in a worst-case scenario.
Bombardier says it believes the allegations are without merit. But to fix the situation, the company approached a wide swath of investors holding eight separate bond issues asking them to approve changes to their covenants to clarify language stating that the asset sales are permitted and to waive any alleged default.
Bondholders who consent to the changes will receive a consent payment from Bombardier worth US$1.25 for every US$1,000 of principal, except one series of debt due in 2026 that will be paid in Canadian dollars. The entire payout could cost Bombardier US$10-million, Veritas estimates. Creditors had until the end of day Tuesday to agree.
In an update Wednesday morning, Bombardier said it has locked up support from bondholders on half of the eight bond issues. But it said it would give until end of day Thursday for most of those who have not provided consent to participate while holders of debentures due in 2026 will get until end of day May 18.
Creditors holding a simple majority of 50 per cent or more by bond value must agree to the proposed changes for the amendments to go through, Bombardier spokesman Mark Masluch has said. That’s true for every series of bonds except the 2026 notes, where a two-thirds majority is required, he said.
Éric Martel, Bombardier’s chief executive, said last week he’s confident the plane maker will push past its current debt covenant trouble unscathed. He called it “a little bump on the road” that will not distract the company on its path to recovery.
Mr. Martel and chief financial officer Bart Demosky are trying to stage a comeback for Bombardier that hinges on paying down debt, cutting costs and selling and servicing private jets. The company has become a single-business manufacturer focused on private aviation after selling its rail unit, its commercial aircraft assets and its plane parts making division.
Momentum in the private jet industry appears to be picking up as vaccinations progress and local economies reopen. In a separate announcement Wednesday, Bombardier said it won a new order for three Challenger 350 aircraft with options on 17 more from Lenexa, Kan.-based fleet operator Airshare.
Airshare is trying to attract new customers who want a bigger plane with greater range than the Embraer-made jets it currently offers and said the Challenger will meet that need. The company, which sells fractional ownership in aircraft and operates the planes for its customers, has been focused on the central United States but plans to expand to the East Coast in the months ahead.
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