Strong opposition to controversial takeover

After an extensive enquiry and despite considerable opposition, the UK government has approved the £4bn takeover the UK global technology leader, Cobham Plc, by the US private equity company Advent International. Cobham has a major participation in the maritime communications sector including a sizeable involvement with yachting market.

The latter includes providing the systems for communications and broadcasting from the Volvo Ocean race which includes the delivery of action video and audio and use of VHF radios for both safety and performance. Cobham also has links in that it makes use of Inmarsat satellites for various satcom product series including the SAILOR and Sea Tel ranges.

Cobham’s acquisition follows that of another leading UK technology company, Inmarsat, which was sold to a group of UK and North American private equity funds after the transaction was cleared by the UK government, again after an enquiry which centred on national security concerns.

Cobham employs some 11,000 people across five continents and has customers and partners in over 100 countries. It holds market-leading positions in: wireless, audio, video and data communications, including satellite communications; defence electronics; air-to-air refuelling; aviation services; life support and mission equipment.

Advent International made an offer of 195p per share some while ago and it has been supported by over 90% of Cobham shareholders. UK Business Secretary, Andrea Leadsom stated that she had approved the deal following an enquiry by the Competition & Markets Authority which included advice from the UK Ministry of Defence and security services. Advent has reportedly made a number of binding undertakings regarding the future of Cobham in its ownership.