The government has signed off a £4bn takeover of UK defence company Cobham by US private equity firm Advent International.

A merger between the companies was agreed to in July, but the acquisition was delayed on the orders of Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom so that the government could address national security concerns raised by the takeover.

Advent is said to have proposed a number of legal undertakings aimed at mitigating any potential national security worries.

They include the ongoing protection of sensitive government information and requiring prior notice to the Ministry of Defence and Home Office on any future plans to sell the Cobham business.

MP Andrea Leadsom
Image: Andrea Leadsom has cleared the merger to proceed

Mrs Leadsom, who led the government consultation process, said she was confident that the merger would not compromise national security, adding the decision had been “meticulously thought over”.

She said: “Having considered the consultation responses and further advice from the defence secretary, I am satisfied that the undertakings mitigate the national security risks identified to an acceptable level and have therefore accepted them and cleared the merger to proceed.

“While trade and investment play an important part in the UK economy, when intervening in mergers on national security grounds, I will not hesitate to use my powers to protect national security, if it is appropriate to do so.

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“Separately, the companies have given a legally binding commitment that there will be significant protection of jobs and have also agreed with the takeover panel that Cobham’s headquarters will remain in the UK, that the Cobham name will continue to be used and that there will be a guaranteed level of R&D spend. This will secure the future of Cobham and the important role it plays in our world-leading defence sector and economy.”

Cobham employs around 10,000 people, including 1,700 in the UK, and is a major player in the field of air-to-air refuelling.