Cobhams US buyer vows to keep UK jobs and investment – The Guardian

Posted: December 25, 2019 at 4:45 pm

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The foreign takeover of Cobham, a world-leading expert in air-to-air refuelling, has been widely criticised. Photograph: Reuters

The new US owner of the UK defence company Cobham has pledged to keep jobs and investment in Britain as the government faces increasing criticism for allowing the 4bn takeover to go ahead.

The world-leading expert in air-to-air refuelling said its private-equity buyer, Advent International, had committed to maintaining a UK headquarters and to continue funding research and development at its Dorset offices. It has also vowed to keep using the companys name, which references Sir Alan Cobham who founded the firm in 1934.

The deal had been delayed for months after fears were raised that Advent Internationals acquisition could undermine national security, because of Cobhams sensitive military contracts. It has extensive deals with the British military and also manufactures electronic warfare and communications systems for military vehicles.

Advents offer to purchase Cobham was approved by shareholders in August, but delayed in September when the government intervened on national security grounds.

The business secretary, Andrea Leadsom, approved the deal on Friday. Cobhams founding family criticised the decision and said the government had timed it before the Christmas break to avoid scrutiny.

On Monday, Advent pledged to maintain UK employee numbers at 90% of the current level for five years. Cobham employs about 1,700 UK staff of a worldwide headcount of 10,000.

It also said it would keep Cobhams communications and connectivity business in the UK. This includes its missions systems unit on air-to-air refuelling technology.

Advent also pledged to continue spending on UK-based research, committing to invest at least 4.4% of revenue from its UK communications division.

Shonnel Malani, a partner at Advent, said: Advent takes its custodianship of Cobham seriously, and we are confident the transaction and undertakings being given on national security, jobs and future investment, provide important long-term assurances for both Cobhams employees and customers, particularly in the UK and also globally.

Lady Nadine Cobham, the daughter-in-law of the companys founder, said: This is a deeply disappointing announcement and one cynically timed to avoid scrutiny on the weekend before Christmas. In one of its first major economic decisions, the government is not taking back control so much as handing it away.

In Cobham we stand to lose yet another great British defence manufacturer to foreign ownership, through a takeover that would never have been approved by the Americans, French or Japanese, all of whom have taken steps recently to raise protections for their own defence sectors.

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Cobhams US buyer vows to keep UK jobs and investment - The Guardian

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December 25th, 2019 at 4:45 pm

Posted in Investment