Advent to buy UK defence firm Cobham in £4bn deal

26 July 2019 (Last Updated July 26th, 2019 12:14)

US buyout group Advent International has reached an agreement to acquire British aerospace and defence firm Cobham for a total cash consideration of £4bn ($4.98bn).

Advent to buy UK defence firm Cobham in £4bn deal
Cobham Falcon about to touch down. Credit: Jerry Gunner.

US buyout group Advent International has reached an agreement to acquire British aerospace and defence firm Cobham for a total cash consideration of £4bn ($4.98bn).

Under the agreement, Cobham shareholders will receive £1.65 in cash in exchange for each share held in the company.

Cobham is specialised in satellite communications, defence electronics, air-to-air refuelling, aviation services, life support and mission equipment markets.

The company’s directors have issued a recommendation to vote in favour of the deal. The acquisition is planned to be implemented via a court-approved scheme of arrangement.

Cobham CEO David Lockwood said: “We have worked intensively over the last two and half years to focus on our customers and our financial and operating performance, and these fundamentals, along with the investment in the business Advent can provide, will enable us to leverage the quality of our products and services.

“Most of all, this offer reflects the potential for future growth and improving performance, and is an endorsement of our turnaround strategy and our hard-working people.”

Cobham Board set about on a multi-year turnaround following a challenging 2016.

The turnaround strategy, led by the company’s CEO and CFO, helped strengthen Cobham’s balance sheet through a £512m (before expenses) rights issue in May 2017.

In March 2018, the company sold its AvComm and Wireless test and measurement businesses.

Cobham board chairman Jamie Pike said: “The Cobham management team’s turnaround actions over the last two and half years have begun to improve our performance, which is reflected in our 2019 interim results announced today.

“The Cobham board is unanimously recommending the offer from Advent as it represents an opportunity for shareholders to realise their investment in Cobham in cash in the near term.”

Furthermore, the UK firm announced that it also began a strategic review of its Australian operations of the aviation services sector.

The acquisition will be carried out through Bidco, an indirect subsidiary of funds managed by Advent.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported that Cobham’s largest shareholder Silchester International Investors has opposed the deal.

Cobham’s land defence offerings include advanced ground-penetrating radar (GPR) detection, vehicle intercom systems, thermal control vests, restraints and cryocooler technology.

In the air defence domain, the company has presence ranging from the development of communication and jamming technology through to operational readiness training of pilots.