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Hawker Beechcraft woes lead to bankruptcy and possibility of jobs going to China

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Hawker Beechcraft Corp., based in Wichita, Kansas is owned by Onex Partners and GS Capital Partners, which happens to be a Goldman Sachs private equity fund. Hawker Beechcraft has struggled its way into Chapter 11 bankruptcy filed in May of this year do largely to the business jet market becoming sluggish, and the fact that the company was purchased in a high leveraged buy when the Jet market was at its peak. The company has tried to justify paying eight senior executives 5.3 million dollars in what it labeled, "incentive rewards" but it must be proven that the proposed bonus plan is not a disguise incentive to keep senior executives on during the bankruptcy which is not allowed in documents filed, however other types of bonuses are allowed. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Stuart Bernstein didn't immediately rule on the Wichita, Kansas based plane maker's request during a hearing in New York, but postponed it, however he did approve a $1.9 million dollar bonus plan for 31 lower management level employees, according to the company and machinists union, both which had representatives at the hearing.

A buyer for Hawker Beechcraft has surfaced. A Chinese company, Superior Aviation Beijing has offered the best bid for the company. After the $1.79 billion dollar offer the court approved exclusive talks for the Beijing based company to purchase Hawker Beechcraft Corporations business jet and general aviation operations, minus it's defense operations which would be left as a stand alone entity.

Superior Aviation has promised no disruption or relocation of existing operations, and no drastic changes in employment levels of Hawker Beechcraft. This could, however remain to be seen. Sixty percent of Superior Aviation Beijing is owned by Chairman Cheng Shenzong, and fourty percent is owned by the Beijing municipal government. Could past history repeat itself? Look at what happened in Texas with Brantly, a helicopter and parts company which was purchased by one of Cheng Shenzong's companies, then all manufacturing was moved to China, leaving only the parts distribution in Texas.

Hawker Beechcraft employees may be finding it hard to tame the fear of the possibility of their jobs moving to China. Only time may tell how much of Hawker Beechcraft could end up in China, or how much of Superior Aviation Beijing will end up in Kansas.

Fly Safe

Craig Smith

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