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UK weighs blocking bid for aeronautical components maker over security

The British government is investigating whether Melrose Industries PLC's hostile bid for GKN plc can be blocked on grounds that it could compromise national security, the Financial Times reported.

GKN has rejected the £7 billion offer from the investment company, whose strategy involves the eventual breakup of the aeronautical components manufacturer and the sale of its constituent parts once the group's profit and cash performance has improved.

Appearing before the House of Commons defense select committee on Feb. 21, Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson said he has written to Greg Clark, the business secretary, about the government's concerns and raised "a whole series of questions" about the proposed takeover. Julian Lewis, chair of the committee, said Williamson has the power to block the takeover on national security grounds. Williamson replied that only the business secretary had that quasi-judicial power.

GKN's defense segment provides components for the Typhoon fighter jet and A400M military transport aircraft. It also supplies components for jet and helicopter programs to the U.S. A defense analyst told the Financial Times that these were not particularly sensitive businesses, but a Whitehall official said the country had "a close interest" in how the technology is used in those programs.

The government's intervention follows criticism of the takeover of semiconductor maker Arm Holdings by Japanese multinational conglomerate Softbank in 2016.