The furore surrounding aerospace stalwart Cobham’s controversial £4bn takeover by a US private equity group shifted up a gear today, as one of its top shareholders rebuffed the plan.
Sanderson Asset Management, an investment firm operating out of London and Chicago, which is Cobham’s 11th largest shareholder, has written to the FTSE 250 company’s founding family to say that it, like them, is against the takeover.
The asset manager said it was “inclined to vote against” the deal on 16 September, when shareholders are due to make their decision.
It said: “We have privately communicated our position to the board along with our desire to see the current management team continue their good work in the event a better offer does not materialise.”
The news was first reported by the Financial Times.
The letter is likely to have cheered Lady Nadine Cobham, whose late husband Michael ran the firm and was the son of founder Alan. She has repeatedly railed against the planned takeover by private equity giant Advent International on the basis the 165p all-cash offer significantly undervalues Cobham’s financial recovery over the last two-and-a-half years.
She is not the only one to have already voiced her concerns. Silchester International Investors, which was Cobham’s largest shareholder when the deal was announced in July, has urged the board to find a better deal.
However, it has not gone so far as to nail its colours to the mast and declare it will vote against the takeover of the 85-year-old defence manufacturer, which is most famous for developing technology which allows one aircraft to refuel from another flying alongside it.
The scales still appear to be weighted in favour of the deal, after two influential shareholder advisory groups, ISS and Glass Lewis, last week recommended investors back the takeover. However, with several major shareholders unsure of the takeover, it remains unclear whether it has the 75 per cent of the vote required for the buyout to go through.
Cobham declined to comment.