Challenging a multi-billion dollar defence deal

Regulatory and public affairs



Following an unsolicited takeover bid for defence and aerospace group, Cobham plc, the Cobham founding family appointed Eterna Partners to help them challenge the transaction and prevent it going ahead.   The takeover offer, from private equity firm Advent International, had been  recommended by the company’s Board after a short negotiation and the deal looked set to be accepted by shareholders  before the family’s intervention. 

“Over 2,000 pieces of coverage.”


Eterna Partners formulated a highly effective campaign to highlight the risks the deal posed to the UK’s national security, and the threat to essential skills in the country’s defence manufacturing base if Cobham moved overseas. The campaign made use of legal and financial advisers appointed by Eterna Partners to challenge claims made by the Board and to support the family on technical issues.  As a result, Eterna Partners drafted and submitted detailed technical submissions to the UK Government as part of its consultation process. 

“Prime Minister Boris Johnson was forced to defend the deal.”


In a little over four months, Eterna Partners generated over 2,000 pieces of coverage highlighting a range of security questions raised by the deal.  The campaign drew in the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, in addition to identifying a number of authoritative voices from the defence and security establishment to reinforce the concerns. 

As a result, the Government referred the transaction to the Competition and Markets Authority and imposed a number of undertakings on Cobham and its acquirer.  Following announcement from the Government that it was clearing the deal, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was forced to defend the deal while visiting UK troops overseas.