Investor George Soros' interest in Fairchild Industries Inc. was incorrectly characterized in Wednesday's Business section. Soros waid in documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission that he took a minority position in the company's stock for investment purposes only. (Published 9/5/87)

Struggling Fairchild Industries Inc., continuing its attempt to transform itself into a high-technology aerospace and military electronics company, said yesterday it has agreed to sell for about $75 million its commercial aircraft division and a group of businesses that make a variety of products used in construction and manufacturing.

The Chantilly company also announced it has improved its balance sheet by repaying $52 million of high-interest debt and repurchasing about $16 million of preferred stock.

The moves are the latest in a restructuring of the company, which has lost $177 million in the past two years and had to grapple last year with the loss of a huge Air Force contract to develop and build a training aircraft, the T46A. It also has struggled through internal disagreements over its strategy and direction and fought off a brief takeover attempt by a group led by New York investor George Soros, who still controls a large block of the company's stock.

Fairchild is attempting to sell several other operations in an effort to pare itself down to a more streamlined company. "Our intention is to emphasize the aerospace and defense electronics portions of Fairchild," said Deborah M. Tucker, a spokeswoman.

Fairchild, which announced earlier this year its intention to sell the commercial airplane business, said yesterday that a private investor group headed by GMF Investments Inc. of Los Angeles would purchase Fairchild Aircraft Co., a maker of small commuter planes, and Fairchild Aircraft Service, which modifies aircraft for commercial and government customers. Executives of the San Antonio, Tex., plane-manufacturing division will be included in the investor group, Tucker said.

Some of the investors in GMF, Fairchild said, were involved in the takeover of Butler Aviation, a national corporate jet and general aircraft service company, earlier this year.

The other businesses sold yesterday consisted of three divisions that make such products as doorknobs and washroom equipment and operate a custom metal-stamping firm, according to Fairchild. Those business were purchased by a group that includes executives and employes of the divisions.

Fairchild declined to comment on the individual prices of the divisions sold, but it said the transactions would fetch a total of about $75 million. The divisions accounted for $158 million of Fairchild's $643.3 million sales last year, and turned small profits in 1986. About 1,600 employes will leave Fairchild to go to work for the new owners, leaving Fairchild with a total of 7,000 employes, Tucker said.

Fairchild has several other businesses on the block, according to Tucker, including a maker of computer modems, an assembler of telecommunications systems for industrial parks and buildings, an aircraft financing company, a maker of industrial controls and a producer of computer cabinetry.

The company also is attempting to find buyers for 100 acres of land on Long Island that housed Fairchild's military aircraft division, which is disappearing as the T46A contract winds down, as well as a facility in Hagerstown that assembles sophisticated composite materials used in aircraft construction.

Once it has disposed of the various businesses it is attempting to sell, Fairchild will be focused principally on the making of components used in the manufacture of aircraft and spacecraft, and the making of electronics and communications products used mostly by the military.

The company also hopes the restructuring will leave it in better shape. In addition to the $75 million from the deals announced yesterday, Fairchild received $34 million in July from the Soros group in exchange for shares of a new series of preferred stock that is convertible into common stock.

Tucker said the money from the transactions would be used to retire debt, buy back stock, fund research and development and pay for possible acquisitions.

The sale of preferred stock to the Soros group followed a peace agreement that ended Soros' attempt to gain control of Fairchild. Soros is an adviser to Quantum Fund, an overseas investment group that owns 11.4 percent of Fairchild's stock, and he also represents a group of investors that owns another 13 percent.