U.K. Clears Cobham to Complete Ultra Acquisition

The U.K. Business Secretary has officially cleared the acquisition of Ultra by Cobham to proceed.

The GBP2.57 billion ($3.06 billion) deal was first announced in August 2021 . The deal faced heavy scrutiny in the U.K., as criticism was rising over U.S. takeovers of U.K. defense contractors.  Cobham itself was acquired by U.S.-based equity firm Advent International in 2019 for GBP4 billion ($5 billion). The Cobham/Ultra deal followed shortly after another U.K. company, Meggitt, agreed to be acquired by U.S. firm Parker Hannifin, with a subsequent second bid being offered by TransDigm.

This acquisition of mid-tier manufacturers in the U.K. by US firms had been causing consternation in the U.K. government and with labor unions. Some in government fear that these international takeovers will compromise national security and economic interests.

In order to assuage such fears, Cobham offered commitments to protect defense capabilities, and to fund  Ultra’s pensions and investment in the U.K.  However, it reserved the right to consolidate operations, likely through the divestiture of Ultra’s forensics and energy businesses.

Ultra is a Tier 3 (subsystem) and occasionally a Tier 2 systems provider in the maritime, C4ISR/EW, military and commercial aerospace, nuclear, and industrial sensors markets.  Headquartered in London, Ultra employs 4,500 primarily in the U.S. and U.K.

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About Richard Pettibone

A military history enthusiast, Richard began at Forecast International as editor of the World Weapons Weekly newsletter, eventually moving to the company's premier newsletter service, World Aerospace & Defense Intelligence (WADI). Richard is the current editor of the Defense & Aerospace Companies, Volume I (North America) and Volume II (International) services. The two books provide detailed analyses of major aerospace and defense contractors. As a contributor to Aviation Week & Space Technology's 2005 and 2006 Aerospace Source Book, he authored the Prime Contractor & Major Manufacturer profiles. Find out more at www.forecastinternational.com

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