Leadsom clashes with Cobham family over £4bn takeover


Andrea Leadsom scrambling to contact widow who is leading campaign against takeover of Cobham after snubbing her for almost a month

Andrea Leadsom was last night scrambling to contact the widow who is leading the campaign against the £4 billion takeover of Cobham after snubbing her for almost a month.

Lady Cobham has been leading the growing opposition to the deal to sell the 85-year-old defence giant to Advent International, a US private equity group.

The 76-year-old, who is the widow of former boss Sir Michael Cobham, the son of Cobham’s founder and aviation pioneer Sir Alan Cobham, contacted the Business Secretary in early August.

On the defensive: Andrea Leadsom has snubbed Lady Cobham for almost a month

On the defensive: Andrea Leadsom has snubbed Lady Cobham for almost a month

In her email, she raised concerns that the takeover of the air-to-air refueling giant is not in the UK’s national interest as there are ‘real risks to UK security and to important high-tech jobs’.

The 165p-per-share takeover has the backing of Cobham’s board and will need to secure the support of 75 per cent of votes cast at a meeting on September 16.

And worries about it have been spurned by Cobham, whose chief executive, David Lockwood, dismissed them as ‘noise’.

The business department insists Leadsom did not receive the email – even though Lady Cobham was sent an automatic reply seen by the Mail saying the Secretary of State would aim to reply within two weeks.

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A spokesman said Leadsom would ‘reply within the next week’.

Lady Cobham said: ‘It’s disappointing that despite the need for urgency it’s been almost a month since I wrote to the Secretary of State and I have yet to receive a response. I now understand that Andrea Leadsom will respond to my letter of August 4.

‘I am very much looking forward to hearing what she has to say.’



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