Former Royal Navy chief urges MPs to probe foreign takeover of defence industry giant Cobham

Mail Online | 9/10/2019 | Francesca Washtell City Correspondent For The Daily Mail
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A former Royal Navy chief today urges ministers to investigate the foreign takeover of a crucial part of Britain’s defence industry.

Admiral Lord West says he is ‘deeply concerned’ about the proposed sale of Dorset-based aerospace giant Cobham to American private equity firm Advent International for £4 billion.

Comments - Pressure - Business - Secretary - Andrea

The comments pile pressure on Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace to intervene amid fears the takeover is a threat to the UK’s national security.

With a crucial shareholder vote on the deal due to take place on Monday, there are fears the Government could wave it through without a proper inquiry.

Opponents - Company - Family - MPs - Defence

Opponents – including the company’s founding family, MPs, former defence ministers and past executives – claim the sale could affect the UK Armed Forces’ access to Cobham’s technology or lead to the loss of high-tech jobs.

Advent has pledged to keep Cobham’s headquarters in Wimborne, Dorset, continue spending on research and development, and intends to cut only about 1 per cent of jobs.

Cobham - Sir - Alan - Cobham - Inspiration

Cobham, founded in 1934 by Sir Alan Cobham, who is said to be the inspiration for Biggles, is a world-leading defence company that pioneered the technology for air-to-air refuelling.

Its products have been used in Concorde, F-35 fighter jets and the International Space Station.

Company - Years - Profit - Warnings

But the company has had a torrid few years, forcing it to issue five profit warnings between 2015 and 2017.

Under new management the company has begun to revive its fortunes – but when Advent approached with a takeover offer in late July it was enthusiastically backed by Cobham’s board.

Tory - MP - Julian - Lewis - Chairman

Tory MP Julian Lewis, chairman of the Commons defence committee, piled further pressure on Mr Wallace by warning that future UK defence projects may be ‘weakened’ if Cobham was unable to take part.

He has written to the defence secretary demanding reassurances that Britain’s defence industry and efforts to...
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