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Mar 11, 2020

Bombardier replaces CEO in new era focused on business jets

Rail unit sale is 'great opportunity', but too soon to gauge investor reaction: Bombardier CEO

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Bombardier Inc. replaced the chief executive officer who orchestrated its breakup and appointed one of its former managers to lead a smaller company focused solely on business jets.

Alain Bellemare, an outsider who was hired five years ago by the founding family to turn Bombardier around, will be succeeded by Eric Martel, the CEO of Canada’s biggest electric utility, Hydro-Quebec. Martel will take over April 6, Bombardier said in a statement.

“Eric is the right leader at the right time for Bombardier, as the company is completing its turnaround plan and focusing on growing its leading business aviation franchise,” chairman Pierre Beaudoin, a former CEO and the grandson of the company’s founder, said in the statement.

The Montreal-based company, which once made everything from snowmobiles to commercial aircraft, is about to turn into a shadow of its former self after ceding its marquee jet program, now known as the A220, to Airbus SE and selling its rail business to French train maker Alstom SA. Bellemare sacrificed many assets to reduce debt in a restructuring that leaves Bombardier making an all-in bet on the unpredictable corporate jet market.

Under Bellemare, the company also convinced Quebec to inject US$1 billion in its CSeries plane, only to allow Airbus to take control of the the aircraft program. During his time at the top, Bombardier’s image was tarnished after management was awarded pay bumps while cutting jobs and receiving government aid.

Martel held various executive positions at Bombardier, including president of the business aircraft division. He has also worked at engine producer Pratt & Whitney and Procter & Gamble Co.