Canada Pressing Bombardier for Guarantees on Jobs, Head Office

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The Canadian government’s negotiations with Bombardier Inc. include seeking assurances on jobs, research spending and the struggling planemaker’s head office, according to the cabinet minister leading the review.

Navdeep Bains, the minister of innovation, science and economic development, said the government was “still engaged” with Bombardier about its aid request for the C Series jet program and confirmed for the first time details of what’s on the table.

“We are focused very much on R&D investment in Canada, the fact the C Series continues to be produced here in Canada, that the head office remains here,” Bains told reporters Wednesday in Ottawa. “It’s about good quality jobs.”

Bombardier rejected the government’s initial offer, according to people familiar with the talks, with the two sides at odds over the company’s corporate governance and dual-class share structure. Under that structure, the founding family controls the voting rights while holding only a minority stake.

Bains declined to address the share structure Wednesday. “We want to see the long-term success of the company, the long-term success of the sector,” he said when asked about corporate governance. “Those are the guiding principles, so that’s why we’re very engaged with the company.”

The minister also declined to comment on whether a deal could be reached by the company’s annual shareholder meeting on April 29. “Right now the process is making sure we come to a solution that, really, is in the public’s best interest,” he said.

Quebec Support

The Quebec government has pledged $1 billion in aid for Bombardier and called on its federal counterpart to match the investment. Quebec’s deal, which has yet to close, comes with a commitment by the company to keep C Series operations in the province for at least 20 years.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is said to be seeking a different type of investment agreement. It has brought in Morgan Stanley to advise on the issue and has spent months reviewing the business case for aid to the company, a major employer in Canada. Bains gave no indication Wednesday of whether a deal is imminent.

“We’ll continue to remain engaged with them because the request they made is very serious and we understand the importance of the company,” he said.

Bombardier’s shares traded higher Wednesday, up 5.5 percent to C$1.74 when markets closed in Toronto. The stock has more than doubled from a 27-year low in February, though is still down nearly 60 percent in the past two years.

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