Airbus and Bombardier have established “clean teams” to finalize arrangements under which the European manufacturer will take a 50.01-percent stake in C Series Aircraft Limited Partnership (CSALP), which builds and sells the single-aisle jetliner. Existing partners Bombardier Aerospace and Québec provincial economic development agency Investissement Québec will hold reduced stakes of 31 percent and 19 percent, respectively.
Clean teams provide a mechanism by which companies wishing to work together—in this case, under a merger agreement—may share information in circumstances otherwise forbidden by anti-trust regulations. “Only clean teams may talk to each other,” according to Bombardier Aerostructures and Engineering Services (BAES) president Michael Ryan. They can speak with internal departments, which may respond, but they may not initiate communication.
Typically, to identify synergies, set interim targets, and prepare initial plans, clean teams may function legally separate from the protagonists’ operational management, but with privileged access to information, including competitively sensitive data.
Regulators such as the European Union or U.S. Federal Trade Commission might require both parties to operate independently while lawmakers consider possible competition issues, although integration planning may continue. Exchange of competitively sensitive data may be permitted for purposes of, for example, anti-trust analysis, due diligence, integration planning, synergy evaluation, or preparation of communications to regulators.
Bombardier called the use of clean teams “a fairly standard practice for this type of partnership discussion between companies who would be considered competitors. Unfortunately [we cannot provide] any more details on our particular team, or the process, scope, or mandate, as this is confidential,” it added. Airbus would say only that it expects completion of the transaction during the second half of 2018, as stated in October.
The move has come as Bombardier extends its supplier relationship with Airbus, which Ryan said dates back more than 30 years. On December 4, Bombardier announced it won a contract from Airbus to develop and manufacture a thrust-reverser for Pratt & Whitney PW1100G geared turbofan engines that power the A320neo family.