Bombardier hires executive for acquisitions, mergers

The Canadian parent of Wichita’s Learjet said Thursday it has hired an executive to oversee mergers, acquisitions and divestitures.

Louis G. Veronneau is the second vice president Bombardier Inc. has hired in a week with responsibility for shoring up the troubled train and planemaker’s operations.

Veronneau, who comes from TD Securities where he was managing director of investment banking, will report to Bombardier CEO Alain Bellemare, himself a relative newcomer to the company as of February.

“When it comes to getting the best out of a deal, you want Louis Veronneau on your team,” Bellemare said in a news release on Thursday. “Louis has led acquisitions, divestitures, joint-ventures, mergers, spin-offs and take-overs totaling billions of dollars. … He will be a great asset for Bombardier as we continue to evaluate our strategic options to create value for our shareholders.”

In addition to acquisitions and mergers, Veronneau will take the lead in an initial public offering of a minority stake in Bombardier Transportation, the company’s train unit.

A week ago Bombardier said it was hiring Jim Vounassis as vice president of operations strategy, and that his charge is to improve profitability and execution “to transform the business into a high performance organization.”

The two hirings come as Bombardier continues to wrestle with lengthy and costly delays in its CSeries airliner program, and now faces softening demand for its profitable large-cabin, long-range business jets. Bombardier said in mid-May it would cut 1,750 jobs in Canada and Northern Ireland as it reduced production of its Global 5000 and Global 6000 jets.

That action followed a January announcement that it would pause the development of its Learjet 85 composite jet, which resulted in a pre-tax charge of $1.4 billion, and the layoff of 620 Learjet employees in Wichita and about 380 others at a Bombardier plant in Mexico.