Ultra Electronics agrees £2.6bn takeover by rival defence firm Cobham | Mergers and acquisitions

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The government is coming under growing criticism for taking a “weak” stance on overseas takeovers of UK businesses, amid the sale of two London-listed defence contractors to US-backed buyers worth almost £9bn.

Labour and the former City minister Paul Myners said serious questions were being raised by the sale of Ultra Electronics, a defence firm that supported coalition forces in Afghanistan, and Meggitt, a Coventry-based supplier of wheels and brakes for fighter jets used by the Royal Air Force.

The board of Ultra said on Monday that it had agreed a £2.6bn takeover with US-owned rival Cobham Group at £35 a share, more than 40% higher than the company’s all-time record share price.

Dorset-based Cobham, owned by the US private equity firm Advent since a £4bn deal in 2020, said the combined company would play a “mission critical” role in defence and security for the “five eyes” network of intelligence allies – the UK, US, Australia,…

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