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Firm's listing to help it market fighter abroad

By Zhao Lei | China Daily | Updated: 2018-01-16 07:14
A model of the FC-31 stealth fighter jet. [Photo by Yuanjian/China Daily]

Shenyang Aircraft Corp, a major maker of fighter jets in China, has been listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange, a move observers said will help to finance the firm's export efforts.

The Liaoning province-based company, part of the State-owned aircraft giant Aviation Industry Corp of China, was launched Friday on the A-share market, which is traded in the renminbi, according to a statement sent to China Daily from AVIC on Monday.

Shenyang Aircraft is the first military aircraft maker to go public on the Chinese market, the statement said. Before the move, AVIC reorganized Shenyang Aircraft's assets and merged it with AVIC Heibao, a listed AVIC subsidiary in Shandong province that produces trucks, according to AVIC.

Shenyang Aircraft's listing will help AVIC explore the proper methods to optimize the conglomerate's capital structure and securitize its assets in the defense industry, the statement said. It also will enable Shenyang Aircraft to better upgrade its technological and manufacturing capacities, it said.

Wang Ya'nan, editor-in-chief of Aerospace Knowledge magazine, said going public may allow Shenyang Aircraft to receive more investment from a wider variety of sources rather than the military and its parent company, enabling it to better finance its efforts to sell fighter jets overseas.

"Currently, almost all costs of AVIC subsidiaries pertaining to a military aircraft's research, development and production come from the military and AVIC. This means Shenyang Aircraft has to rely on its own profits, together with a limited amount of funds from the parent company, when it designs, makes and markets a fighter jet specifically developed for foreign users," Wang said. "This must have hindered the firm's endeavors to tap the international market."

By comparison, Western aviation giants can easily raise funds or introduce strategic investors from the equity market, meaning there are steady sources of investment to help them design new products and expand market share, he added. Wu Peixin, an aviation industry observer in Beijing, said the direct benefit the Shenyang company would expect from the listing will be more money that it can use in the FC-31 project, an ambitious effort to break the United States' monopoly in the advanced fighter jet market.

He said that funds raised from the stock market will allow Shenyang Aircraft to continue to sustain the costly program until it finds a buyer for the aircraft in the global market.

The FC-31 is a stealth fighter jet under testing at Shenyang Aircraft. The twin-engine, radar-evading plane made its maiden flight in October 2012, becoming the country's second 5th-generation fighter jet following the J-20, a more advanced type that has been commissioned for the Chinese Air Force.

AVIC displayed a model of the FC-31 at the 52nd International Paris Air Show in June and the 14th Dubai Airshow in November 2015, saying it wants to use the combat plane to capture a share of the military aircraft market of developed nations.

As the nation's leading aircraft maker, AVIC now owns 28 public companies with a total market value of more than 470 billion yuan ($73 billion), and those listed firms have raised 59.5 billion yuan from the Chinese stock markets since 2008, the company said.

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