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UPDATE 1-Bombardier says to create single aviation unit, sell non-core assets

Allison Lampert and Arathy S Nair

(Adds details on restructuring, Q1 results)

May 2 (Reuters) - Canada's Bombardier Inc said on Thursday it would combine its corporate and regional jet units into a single aviation unit and shed more non-core assets by selling off its Belfast and Morocco aerostructures businesses.

The announcement comes ahead of Bombardier's annual general meeting later in the day, where the plane and train maker is expected to face pressure from skeptical investors about whether its turnaround plan is still on track as its transportation division grapples with delayed rail contracts.

Investors were rattled last week when Bombardier lowered its first-quarter and full-year revenue targets for the transportation division, its largest unit, raising concerns over whether it will still meet its 2020 targets of boosting margins and generating $20 billion in revenue.

Bombardier said in a statement on Thursday it was making steady progress in managing the "challenging legacy projects" and will take a few more quarters for completion.

The company posted first-quarter revenue and profit in line with its preliminary results announced last week and reiterated its lowered guidance.

Bombardier said it will focus its aerostructures activities in Montréal, Mexico and its newly acquired Global 7500 business jet wing operations in Texas.

The rail division, which is expected to generate $10 billion next year, is crucial to Bombardier's five-year turnaround plan, after heavy investment in aircraft production drove it to the brink of bankruptcy in 2015.

Bombardier's surprise decision to slash its full-year revenue forecast by almost 8 percent to about $8.75 billion was blamed largely on five delayed contracts, mostly in Europe.

On Wednesday, Swiss Federal Railways said Bombardier was making progress on one of those contracts, a long-delayed 1.9 billion Swiss franc ($1.87 billion) order.

Some investors questioned Bombardier's credibility in changing its financial guidance following a recent debt raise.

"The concern, particularly after the March debt raise, is whether management remains committed to its longer term 2020 guidance," said Toronto-based AltaCorp analyst Capital Chris Murray by email.

"We expect that during that process, the company had reiterated prior 2019 guidance, which it changed last week, adding to concern on the part of bondholders."

A Bombardier spokesman declined to comment and said management would address questions at the meeting.

One fixed-income strategist who spoke on condition of anonymity said it was a "misleading move to market this lead at the end of February to early March when you obviously knew how your numbers were going to look."

The yield on Bombardier's 7.875 percent April 2027 U.S. dollar bond, which was issued on March 7 and has $2 billion outstanding, traded on Wednesday at 7.6815 percent, up about 43 basis points since April 24.

Bombardier said it continues to expect full-year free cash flow to be breakeven plus or minus $250 million, as Global 7500 aircraft and key transportation project deliveries are expected to accelerate in the second half of the year.

While Bombardier management will likely face frustration from investors, "issues they have had over the past few months are nothing relative to the issues they had in 2015," said Michael Willemse, senior research analyst at Taylor Asset Management, a top 10 Bombardier shareholder according to Refinitiv Eikon data.

Adjusted core earnings rose by $1 million to $266 million in the three months to March 31, while revenue fell 13 percent to $3.52 billion.

($1 = 1.0138 Swiss francs) (Reporting By Allison Lampert in Montreal and Arathy Nair in Bengaluru Additional reporting by Fergal Smith in Toronto; Editing by Tom Brown and Arun koyyur)

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