Sale of Duluth-based Cirrus to Chinese company complete
Cirrus Aircraft is now in Chinese hands. The Duluth-based airplane-maker announced this morning that China Aviation Industry General Aircraft Co. Ltd. has completed its acquisition of all operations. "We're very excited to have joined forces with...
Cirrus Aircraft is now in Chinese hands.
The Duluth-based airplane-maker announced this morning that China Aviation Industry General Aircraft Co. Ltd. has completed its acquisition of all operations.
"We're very excited to have joined forces with CAIGA," said Cirrus President and CEO Brent Wouters in a written statement. "This partnership will benefit our business and our customers; we share with CAIGA a vision of worldwide growth. CAIGA has the resources that will allow us to expedite our aircraft development programs and accelerate our global expansion."
The pending sale of the company, announced on Feb. 28, had been temporarily slowed to allow for federal authorities to determine if the deal involved any sensitive technology or information that could be detrimental to national security or other interests. Eighth District Congressman Chip Cravaack, R-Lindstrom, had asked for the review. But the sale received the go-ahead from American authorities about three to four weeks ago, according to Todd Simmons, Cirrus' marketing director.
Cravaack indicated Tuesday that he was satisfied the sale had received proper scrutiny.
"My staff and I have been in touch with the Treasury Department," he said. "I trust they have done their due diligence to ensure sensitive technology will not fall into the wrong hands."
Looking forward, Cravaack said: "It is my sincere hope we will be able to maintain or even expand the number of high-skill aviation jobs we currently have in Northeast Minnesota."
Even after U.S. officials OK'd the sale, it took additional time for the Chinese government's National Development and Return Commission and the Ministry of Commerce to sign off on the acquisition.
Simmons described the review process as thorough and straightforward. Although fielding questions from all the involved authorities proved time-consuming, he said it provided time for Cirrus and CAIGA staff to strengthen ties.
"We've gotten to know each other better," he said.
Simmons said Cirrus' first contact with CAIGA dates back to about two years ago. But he said discussions about the possible mechanics of an acquisition grew increasingly more serious in the last 12 to 18 months.
Wouters has maintained that the sale will have no immediate impact on Cirrus' operations in Duluth, other than to better provide capital for the company. He said there are no imminent plans to move any production from Duluth.
Simmons said Cirrus employs about 500 people company-wide, including roughly 400 in Duluth. The company also has a plant in Grand Forks, N.D., that supplies composite parts for its airplanes.
As for Cirrus' new ownership, CAIGA President Meng Xiangkai said in a prepared statement: "We are very impressed with Cirrus' performance in the global general aviation industry. It has a very strong record of consistent product excellence, comprehensive safety features, an outstanding management team and a highly skilled work force who operate from advanced production facilities. We look forward to working with Cirrus' management team to build upon its success and to expand production volume to further cement Cirrus' leadership position in the global general aviation industry."