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Mitsubishi Heavy in talks to buy Bombardier's CRJ regional jet programme

Tokyo

JAPAN'S Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd, which has been developing its own regional jet programme, said on Wednesday that it was in talks to buy Bombardier Inc's CRJ aircraft business.

The comment followed a report by Air Current that Mitsubishi Heavy was in advanced negotiations with Bombardier and that an announcement could come as soon as the Paris Air Show, which starts on June 17, if a deal is finalised.

Mitsubishi Heavy told Reuters by e-mail that it was in discussions but that no decision had been made.

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The Canadian planemaker has said it is aiming to make a decision on the future of its money-losing CRJ regional jet programme this year. The company is exploring "all strategic options" for the programme including a potential sale, Bombardier chief executive Alain Bellemare said in January.

The talks come amid a legal challenge between the two companies.

The Montreal-based company sued Mitsubishi Heavy unit Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp last year, alleging that former Bombardier employees passed on trade secrets to help with the development and certification of the company's new MRJ regional jet. In a counter suit, Mitsubishi said Bombardier had tried to coerce it and Seattle-based Aerospace Testing Engineering & Certification (AeroTEC) to sign no-poach agreements that would stop them from hiring Bombardier's employees.

Mitsubishi's regional jet programme has been delayed by several years, with first customer ANA Holdings Inc now expecting delivery in 2020 rather than in 2013 as originally planned. REUTERS