Sunday 28 July 2019 7:16 pm

Speculation of possible rival bids in wake of Advent International’s £4bn offer for Cobham

US private equity firm Advent International’s £4bn offer for Cobham came under scrutiny over the weekend amid shareholder divisions and speculation of rival bids for the defence group.

Some of Cobham’s largest shareholders have been split in their support for the offer, which marks the latest in a series of public companies being bought out by private equity.

Read more: Cobham shares soar on £4bn offer

On Thursday Advent offered a £1.65-a-share takeover bid for the British aerospace group, representing a 34 per cent premium to Wednesday’s share price.

Artemis Investment Management, which holds a 5.13 per cent stake, is supporting the takeover, according to Cobham.

Yet Cobham’s largest shareholder, Silchester International Investors, which controls an 11.83 per cent holding, said it did not view the offer as “compelling”.

The London-based group also urged Cobham’s board to “seek and respond” to other potential bidders. The deal for Cobham, which is known for pioneering air-to-air refuelling technology, requires 75 per cent shareholder approval.

Read more: Babcock shares sink as one-off costs torpedo defence giants

The Mail on Sunday reported today that British engineering business Meggitt is mulling a possible bid for the group.

Meggitt declined to comment, but one source at the firm insisted the FTSE 250 engineer was “categorically not looking at a deal”.

Advent’s takeover of Cobham could attract the scrutiny of politicians less than 18 months after GKN was acquired in a hostile takeover by turnaround group Melrose Industries in a deal that caused alarm among politicians and unions over the fate of the centuries-old British engineering company.