Exclusive: Hawker Beechcraft readies bankruptcy filing

Wed Mar 28, 2012 7:56pm EDT
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By Soyoung Kim and Andrea Shalal-Esa

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Hawker Beechcraft Inc, the aircraft manufacturer owned by Goldman Sachs Group Inc's (GS.N: Quote) private equity arm and Onex Corp OCX.TO, is preparing to file for bankruptcy protection in the next several weeks, according to several people familiar with the matter.

Hawker, which was bought by the private equity firms in 2007 for $3.3 billion, is negotiating a prearranged bankruptcy with its largest lenders, which include Centerbridge Partners, Angelo Gordon and Capital Research & Management, these sources said on Wednesday.

Hawker and Onex declined to comment. Goldman Sachs and the lenders were not immediately available for comment.

The sources declined to be named because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Centerbridge, a New York-based investment firm focused on leveraged buyouts and distressed investments, is the biggest lender, these sources said.

These lenders would also likely provide debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing to allow Hawker to continue to operate in bankruptcy, one of the sources said.

One of the sources also said the DIP financing is currently expected to be less than $500 million, but cautioned the number has not been finalized and could change.

Goldman Sachs Capital Partners, the bank's private equity fund, and Canada's largest buyout firm, Onex, bought Raytheon Aircraft Co from Raytheon Co (RTN.N: Quote) in early 2007, at the height of the buyout boom, and renamed it Hawker Beechcraft.   Continued...

A pilot stands by his plane, a Hawker Beechcraft T-6C Texan II, during the second day of the Dubai Airshow November 14, 2011. REUTERS/Nikhil Monteiro