Raytheon closure threatens 360 BAe jobs

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BRITISH Aerospace admitted at the weekend that the closure of Raytheon's British corporate jets business has put about 360 BAe jobs at risk - far more than was at first thought, writes Russell Hotten.

A former senior BAe executive has criticised the company for selling its jets division to Raytheon last year for pounds 250m.

Richard Hooke claims that he was cold-shouldered by BAe when he tried to mount a management buyout of the operation.

He believes Raytheon always intended to move the business to America.

Raytheon's decision will cost all 850 jobs at the corporate jet business. The closure caused a storm of protest when it was announced last Thursday.

BAe supplies airframe assemblies for Raytheon's Hawker aircraft and the companies share a site at Broughton, Clwyd.

About 180 BAe employees work directly on the supply contract, but another 180 staff are indirectly linked.

It was first thought that 140 BAe staff could be affected, but yesterday a spokesman admitted it would have to review the future for about 360 staff.

They could be given alternative work once the Raytheon contract runs out, but the spokesman would not guarantee there would be no job losses.

Raytheon had cut back production of Hawker 1000 and 800 planes from about 40 to 18, blaming sluggish worldwide demand.

Mr Hooke, former head of BAe Enterprises, had the backing of the investment firms Apax, NatWest Acquisition Finance and Unity Bank for a management buyout of the corporate jets business.

He claims he was 'frozen out' of talks by John Cahill, the then chairman.

'He kept us at arm's length and we could not get to see him. He seemed intent on selling to Raytheon,' Mr Hooke said.

BAe said Mr Hooke was not 'able to provide a clear, coherent proposal for the business'.