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* Announcement may come as soon as Paris Air Show this month-report
* Bombardier has been considering sale of money-losing CRJ (Adds context, Bombardier comment)
MONTREAL, TOKYO June 5 (Reuters) - Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd said on Wednesday it is holding talks to buy Bombardier Inc's CRJ program, in a deal that would shake up the market for regional jets with fewer than 100 seats.
Earlier Air Current reported that Mitsubishi Heavy was in advanced negotiations with Bombardier and that an announcement could come as soon as the Paris Air Show, which starts June 17, if a deal is finalized.
Mitsubishi Heavy, which is working to break into aviation with the launch of its own regional jet program, told Reuters by email that it was in discussions but that no decision had been made. Bombardier did not immediately comment.
The talks come as the Canadian planemaker is trying to find a solution for its money-losing CRJ program, which has no backlog past 2020. For its part, Mitsubishi is hungry for expertise to develop and certify its delayed regional jet program, the MRJ.
"This has really been a Bombardier-Mitsubishi Heavy conversation," said a source familiar with the Canadian company's thinking. "The combination itself makes a ton of sense."
A deal would be the latest shuffling in aircraft competition and manufacturing, after Bombardier sold a majority stake in its 110-130 seat CSeries jetliner program to Europe's Airbus . The Bombardier CRJ competes against aircraft made by Brazil's Embraer SA which struck its own deal with U.S. planemaker Boeing Co.
Bombardier Chief Executive Alain Bellemare said in January the company is considering "all strategic options" for the program, including a potential sale.
The Canadian plane and trainmaker recently combined its aviation units to focus on more profitable business jets and passenger rail cars.
Mitsubishi is working to certify the MRJ, which has been delayed by several years with first customer ANA Holdings Inc now expecting delivery in 2020 rather than in 2013 as originally planned.
It is not yet clear how an agreement between Bombardier and Mitsubishi, if the transaction is completed, would affect CRJ production or what the value of the deal would be.
Montreal-based Bombardier had recently clashed in court with Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp, a unit of Mitsubishi Heavy, over allegations that former Bombardier employees passed on trade secrets to help with the development and certification of the MRJ regional jet. The talks coincide with plans for Bombardier to sell plants in Belfast and Morocco. Industry sources say Airbus is looking at the Belfast plant, which uses advanced wing manufacturing technology, but would prefer to see it go to a supplier such as GKN or Spirit. Airbus declined to comment. (Reporting by Allison Lampert, Chris Gallagher and Maki Shiraki; additional reporting by Tim Hepher Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Steve Orlofsky)