Arkansas may have landed its first major Chinese investment since Gov. Mike Beebe traveled to Asia on a trade mission earlier this year.
The announcement just didn't have anything to do with the Governor's trip.
Hawker Beechcraft announced an agreement with Superior Aviation Beijing Co., Ltd. that could preserve aerospace jobs in Little Rock and Wichita, Kan. A spokesman for Gov. Mike Beebe said state economic officials did not participate in the negotiations.
Hawker announced in May that it would file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a move to reorganize its assets. At the time, the status of jobs at the company's Little Rock manufacturing center were unknown.
On Monday (July 9), Hawker said the deal with Beijing-based Superior would result in maintaining Hawker Beechcraft's existing operations “while also investing substantial capital in the company and its business and general aviation product line, saving thousands of American jobs, including in Wichita, Kan. and
Little Rock, Ark.”
The deal has not closed, but it includes a $1.79 billion investment from Superior over the next 6 weeks. A joint press statement said the transaction would:
- Make Hawker Beechcraft Superior's “flagship” investment
- Maintain Hawker's U.S. headquarters in Wichita
- Keep Hawker's management team and employees
“Superior has had a long-standing interest in the commercial aircraft business of Hawker Beechcraft, having first approached the company several years ago regarding a potential strategic partnership. With Superior’s previous experience operating a U.S. business and its demonstrated ability to quickly restore a business to profitability after emerging from Chapter 11, we believe a transaction with Superior would maximize value for Hawker Beechcraft and its stakeholders,” said Robert S. “Steve” Miller, CEO of Hawker Beechcraft.
“Importantly, this combination would give Hawker Beechcraft greater access to the Chinese business and general aviation marketplace, which is forecast to grow more than 10 percent a year for the next 10-15 years. We look forward to working toward a definitive agreement,” he added.