x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Emivest asks for more time

A Dubai-based aerospace company has asked US courts for more time to sell its assets.

A Dubai aerospace company with facilities in the US is seeking to dispose of its assets and has asked American courts to extend its bankruptcy protection until the middle of summer.

Emivest Aerospace, which makes the SJ30 light jet, filed for bankruptcy protection in October with the US district court in Delaware and has been looking to sell its assets before a deadline set by the courts for next month.

But last week lawyers for the company asked for an extension until mid-May to file a formal bankruptcy reorganisation plan, and until mid-July for creditors to accept the plan.

Court documents reveal the list of possible buyers includes China Aviation Industry General Aircraft (CAIGA).

The state-backed company has a reported US$1.5 billion (Dh5.5bn) in assets which it has used to carry out an aggressive investment strategy in the US, including the acquisition of Epic Aircraft of Oregon last year, and a campaign to buy the general aviation engine maker Teledyne Continental Motors of Alabama. Emivest's potential asset sale to CAIGA is supported by Gregg Williams, the president and chief executive of Williams International, an Emivest creditor.

In a letter to the court, Mr Williams said the Chinese company planned to invest "more than $100 million" to restart the stalled production of the SJ30.

In 2008, Emivest bought 80 per cent of the shares of Sino Swearingen Aircraft, the maker of the SJ30, from a Taiwanese company.

It renamed the aircraft company Emivest Aerospace. A year later it vowed to inject $1bn into the company to expand its product line.

But just over two years later it was forced to seek creditor protection as the aviation industry suffered through the global downturn.

"The global financial crisis has drastically reduced the demand for business jets, especially in the category of small and medium-sized jets worth $4m to $24m," the company said in court documents. "Given this current position, the company simply cannot continue to operate outside of Chapter 11."

Court documents list dozens of creditors including Action Aviation, Emivest's Middle East sales representative.

Emivest called the SJ30 "the world's fastest, longest-range and highest-flying light jet". The company said it had orders for more than 200 of the aircraft, with non-refundable deposits paid.

The jet retails for an average price of $7.2m. At the Dubai Airshow last November, one jet was delivered to the actor Morgan Freeman.

That was one of only two jets reportedly made since Emivest acquired its controlling stake. Previously, Sino Swearingen had reportedly delivered two other SJ30s.