Britain has confirmed that it may well investigate possible national security risks that may result from the intended sale of Ultra Electronics (Ultra) for £2.6 billion (US$3.6 billion) to Cobham, a rival company which is owned by U.S. private equity firm, Advent.
Ultra, which provides customers with torpedo and radar systems, plus additional defense communication equipment, counts both the British and U.S governments as its customers. However, when Cobham announced the intended acquisition of Ultra on Monday of this week, it pre-emptively set out comments intended to address concerns regarding potential national security issues.
“The UK is open for business, however foreign investment must not threaten our national security,” business minister Kwasi Kwarteng said on Wednesday, adding that he had asked Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority, a regulator, to prepare a report on the proposed transaction. The U.K. government has set a deadline of January 18, 2022, for submission of the report. Kwarteng also said he would seek to stop Ultra from disclosing sensitive information to Cobham about the goods or services it provides to the U.K. government and its armed forces.
Advent declined to comment and, according to Reuters news agency, instead referred to Cobham’s statement on Monday which included the offer of legally binding commitments on Ultra including safeguarding national security, maintaining a headquarters in Britain, and investing more in the country. Britain’s government said in July it was closely monitoring Cobham’s bid for Ultra.