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Industrial Hostile takeover of weapons manufacturing firm threatens US national security, warns Unite

AN AEROSPACE takeover in Britain threatens the national security of the United States, trade union Unite said today.

Investments giant Melrose is making a hostile bid to buy up the British firm GKN — which supplies the US air force’s secret military programmes.

The manufacturer is known for its F-35 and F-18 fighter planes and the Chinook and Blackhawk helicopters.

US House of Representatives member Neal Dunn warned Melrose had no expertise in armaments and only invested in a “buy, sell, improve” fashion.

And now Britain’s largest union Unite, which represents workers at GKN’s sites, has echoed his criticisms.

In a letter to the committee on foreign investment in the US, Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: “Melrose is a self-declared ‘turnaround company’ focused on short-term shareholder value with the objective of disposing of assets within three to five years of acquisition.

“The proposed offer is based on share value and not industrial strategy, with Melrose levering a healthy GKN balance sheet in order to fund ‘exceptional dividends’ to shareholders.

“Future ownership fears are genuine and should lead to concerns with both prime contractors and governments over the security of defence intellectual property.”

GKN is attempting to fight off the takeover bid by offering a cash payout to its shareholders.

The company is thought to have compiled a dossier designed to placate investors and persuade them not to accept the £7.4 billion offer, which it has branded “derisory.”

The defence strategy is thought to include a sell-off of the company’s powder metallurgy sector, which supplies the automotive sector.

Unite said it was supporting the fightback due to “fundamental concerns over the future ownership and governance structure of a ‘stripped-out’ business.”

Melrose accused GKN of “opportunistic financial engineering.”

Meanwhile the Campaign Against Arms Trade suggested the ownership of the company was of tangential importance.

“GKN has consistently armed repressive regimes across the world,” the campaign’s spokesman Andrew Smith said.

“Regardless of its ownership, the government should be shifting its industrial strategy into other areas of engineering, such as renewable energy, and away from companies that profit from war and conflict.”

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