Boeing to sell planes worth $37 billion to China

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Boeing Co (BA.N) said it signed an agreement on Thursday to sell 300 planes to China Aviation Supplies Holding Company worth $37 billion at list prices, one of several deals announced during a state visit by US President Donald Trump to Beijing.

State-run China Aviation Supplies, which leases planes to Chinese airlines, said the agreement was for 260 B-737s as well as 40 B777s and B787s. The breakdown between firm orders and non-binding commitments was not immediately available.

Analysts said, however, that some of the orders may be among more than 300 from undisclosed buyers posted this year, and it was not yet understood how much of the China deal would be entirely new business.

The new agreement also may overlap substantially with a similar, 300-plane agreement Boeing signed during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s 2015 visit to the United States.

That deal, valued at $38 billion at the time, included orders and commitments for 190 B-737s and 50 Boeing wide-body planes, as well as leases for an additional 60 B-737s.

A spokesman for the planemaker declined to comment on what proportion of the new China agreement represented new or existing orders. Boeing typically lets plane buyers determine what details to reveal about orders.

STRONG DEMAND

Boeing says one out of every four jetliners now rolling off its assembly lines is being delivered to Chinese customers, suggesting Chinese demand is strong, despite vagueness about how many actual Chinese orders it has won.

Plane makers also acknowledge a multi-step wooing process with customers such as China. The government first determines how many airplanes its airlines will need, allowing detailed contract discussions to take place. After talks conclude, the government must give final approval to the contracts before the orders become firm.

Some customers ask Boeing to not identify them as buyers even on firm orders, and China is typically among those, according to industry experts. Boeing had 334 orders by unidentified customers as of 24 October, of which 290 were for its 737 narrow body family.

Boeing and European rival Airbus (AIR.PA) have been jostling for market share in China, the world’s fastest growing aviation market, with both opening assembly plants in the country.

China’s owned aircraft fleet is currently equally split between Boeing and Airbus, but going by order book trends, Boeing seems to have gained a big lead in terms of the number of aircraft orders from China, said Corrine Png, chief executive of transport research firm Crucial Perspective.

China Aviation Supplies has also played a prominent role in deals announced during previous government exchanges.

In July, it agreed to buy 140 aircraft from Airbus in a deal worth $23 billion at list prices during a visit by Xi to Germany. It also was among three Chinese companies involved in the 2015 Boeing order.

Boeing’s latest signing in China follows an order for 39 wide-body jets from Singapore Airlines last month.

Earlier on Thursday, aircraft engine maker General Electric Co (GE.N) said it had signed deals worth $3.5 billion in China.

That included a $1.4 billion agreement for engines for 10 B-787-9 jetliners, signed with Juneyao Airlines Co Ltd (603885.SS) and ICBC Leasing, the leasing arm of state bank Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd (601398.SS).

A GE spokesperson said the engine order was new, and deferred to Boeing on how much of aircraft order was new.

© Reuters

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