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Government gives green light for controversial £4billion private equity takeover of defence firm Cobham

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Ministers have signed off the £4billion takeover of British defence giant Cobham by a US private equity firm.

Advent International struck a deal to buy Dorset-based Cobham in July but it was delayed amid national security concerns. The green light came late on Friday after Advent made legally-binding promises to protect the UK’s interests. These included pledges to protect sensitive Government information.

Lady Nadine Cobham, daughter-in-law of the firm’s founder who campaigned against the deal, yesterday said she was ‘deeply disappointed’ and accused the Government of ‘handing control away’. She also accused Ministers of ‘cynically’ approving the deal over the weekend before Christmas to ‘avoid scrutiny’.

She added: ‘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.’

But Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: ‘A lot of checks have been gone through to make sure that … all the security issues that might be raised can be satisfied and the UK will continue to be a very, very creative and dynamic contributor to that section of industry and all others.’

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