Government investigates Chinese investment in ICON

ICON Aircraft is under investigation by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (Cfius) after a complaint from a group of minority investors who claim that a Chinese company’s large stake in the company could lead to technology transfer with military applications. ICON said in a statement last week that the allegations were actually an attempt by the company’s former CEO and founder, Kirk Hawkins, to regain control of the company. Hawkins was fired by the board after China’s Shanghai Pudong Science and Technology Investment Co. racked up 47% of the company’s shares. Hawkins, however, retained his seat on the board.

In their application to Cfius, the shareholders claim that the company’s only aircraft, a light amphibian marketed as a recreational aircraft, could be transformed into a military drone and that its manufacture involves “state-of-the-art technology and materials and the capabilities of aerospace manufacturing should not fall into the hands” of China according to Forbes. ICON rejected the claim, saying “the aircraft is loaded with styling and safety features that make the aircraft totally unsuitable for military application”. ICON also said that the Chinese company was invited by Hawkins to invest in the company and that he did not have these national security concerns at the time. ICON said it was cooperating with the government investigation.

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