U.K. Government Clears Cobham-Advent Deal After Security Review

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(Bloomberg) --

The U.K. government cleared the $5 billion takeover of British defense supplier Cobham Plc by Advent International Corp., saying it was satisfied with remedies offered to address national security concerns.

Advent proposed measures such as protecting sensitive government information and honoring existing contracts after a public-interest review announced in September, plus preserving jobs and committing to targets for research & development spending.

“The undertakings mitigate the national security risks identified to an acceptable level,” Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom said in a statement late Friday. “This decision has been meticulously thought over.”

Cobham, which has extensive contracts with the British military and about 10,000 employees globally, is the world’s biggest supplier of air-to-air refueling systems and also counts Airbus SE and Boeing Co. as customers.

The timing of the decision on the Boston-based private equity group’s takeover was criticized by a member of the Cobham family which set up the firm, saying it was “cynically timed to avoid scrutiny on the weekend before Christmas.”

“In Cobham we stand to lose yet another great British defense manufacturer to foreign ownership, through a takeover that would never have been approved by the Americans, French or Japanese,” Lady Nadine Cobham said to the BBC. “In one of its first major economic decisions, the government is not taking back control so much as handing it away.”

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