COMAC sets up major investments for future

By Zhu Wenqian | China Daily | Updated: 2017-08-22 07:43

COMAC sets up major investments for future

The engine for the C919 is on display at an aero exhibition in Beijing. [Lan Di/for China Daily]

Commercial Aircraft Corp of China Ltd has put together multibillion yuan funds to support research and development after rolling out the C919.

Earlier this month, the latest round of funding for COMAC was announced when Huatai Asset Management injected 15 billion yuan ($2.25 billion) into the State-owned aircraft manufacturer.

This followed a 10 billion yuan fund put together in May by the Asset Management Association of China, and more than 40 private equity companies to finance projects between COMAC and its suppliers.

"The injection of capital is significant for the commercial aircraft industry in China," said Lin Zhijie, an aviation industry analyst and columnist at, one of China's largest civil aviation web portals.

"The research and development of new products needs a large amount of money and these funds will have a profound and lasting impact on the growth of aircraft manufacturing," Lin added.

Huatai Asset Management, which is part of Huatai Insurance Company of China Ltd, will provide funding through a 10-year renewable debt investment plan.

Part of the deal allows COMAC to renew the agreement after the investment policy matures.

The 15 billion yuan fund will be used for R&D, as well as financing civil aviation projects by the aircraft corporation, and has been backed by the China Insurance Regulatory Commission or CIRC.

Still, this is the first time COMAC and a major insurance group have collaborated in what is one of the largest debt investment deals registered under the Insurance Asset Management Association of China.

Looking ahead, Huatai aims to wheel out funds from other insurance companies to better serve the "real economy", and will also provide more diverse services, such as debt and equity investment and financing, to COMAC.

"The debt investment plan marks a critical step in the support from insurance funds to the real economy and emerging strategic industries, which fits COMAC's need for initial investment," said He Dongfeng, chairman of the board at COMAC.

Indeed, there is significant growth potential in the aviation industry. Already China's only civil aircraft manufacturer has 600 orders for the C919, the largest passenger jet constructed in the country.

But investment is crucial at this stage, triggering the decision by the Asset Management Association of China and equity companies, including Qianhai Mergers and Acquisitions Funds, Redbud Capital and Rosefinch Investment, to inject finance into COMAC.

The move will help drive "growth" in the "upstream and downstream industrial chain".

More than 200 local companies are serving as suppliers and manufacturers for the C919, which has a staggering 100,000 components.

At first, the fund will be used for R&D of aircraft components, such as engines and electronic devices.

Lin, at, is convinced this will make a huge impact on the industry and for domestic passenger aircraft, as well as other high-end manufacturing sectors in China.

Leading aircraft corporations need a highly complex supply chain. They simply act as a host, surrounded by an army of suppliers that make an array of components, such as engines, landing gear, seats and control panels.

"As the C919 has already made its maiden flight, the next step for COMAC is to increase the localization rate of homemade aircraft components, which will enable more domestic suppliers to produce the parts," Lin said.

"But most producers don't have enough money for their R&D work. With the support of the fund, domestic suppliers can bring in more advanced technology from abroad through investments, and mergers and acquisitions," Lin added. "This will in effect help domestic companies to grow faster and produce more competitive products."

Sales of the C919 will keep COMAC's suppliers busy. Total orders have reached 600 for the aircraft from 24 Chinese and overseas clients.

Back in June, Everbright Financial Leasing Co Ltd, a subsidiary of China Everbright Bank Co Ltd, became the latest group to join the C919 line when they ordered 30 planes.

At the time, Zhang Jinliang, president of China Everbright Bank Co Ltd, stressed that R&D in large commercial aircraft in the country had become crucial to meet surging demand for domestic and international passenger jets.

"Everbright Financial Leasing has been paying close attention to the research and development of the C919 aircraft," Zhang said. "Its successful maiden flight on May 5 has been a milestone in the history of China's aviation industry.

"We will support the development of homegrown commercial aircraft, and contribute to the growth of domestic aircraft manufacturing," he added. "In the future, we plan to launch further and deeper cooperation with COMAC."

COMAC sets up major investments for future

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