Cobham - Taking takeovers to new heights

Taking takeovers to new heights.

Having worked with Cobham since 2017 to help a new management team communicate a significant turnaround, we advised the Board in the run up to and during a recommended bid by Advent International.

Cobham is a major supplier to the UK’s armed forces and an important part of Britain’s advanced manufacturing industrial base. With a number of high profile stakeholders, including the Cobham founding family, publicly advocating against the deal and undermining the bid, our campaign helped secure support for the takeover.

The takeover was announced in July and days later representatives of the Cobham’s founding family publicly opposed the bid. The UK Government intervened in the bid, issuing a Public Interest Intervention Notification and making this the first significant test case for the national security amendments to the Enterprise Act introduced following the Melrose/GKN takeover.

Keeping the line of defence strong

Our job was to maintain a clear and consistent defence of allegations against the Board, without being distracted from proactively engaging key decision makers – the Secretary of State for BEIS, and institutional shareholders in Cobham, to communicate the rationale behind the bid. We ran a strong rebuttal campaign and worked with the Board to manage communications with all stakeholders. We gave air cover and stopped arguments in public influencing shareholders in private.

The sale of Cobham was a highly emotive topic and we were faced with influential stakeholders spreading negative sentiment and misrepresenting the bid.

We reiterated the rationale behind the board’s recommendation of the bid. Whilst running an intense a media rebuttal operation to prevent false assertions and misleading interpretations of the around the bid gaining traction with stakeholders and hyper politicising issue.

We created a narrative and messaging framework for the bid, explaining the Board’s recommendation to every stakeholder group on a segmented basis.

Our intense rebuttals operation over six months prevented a number of false negative stories being published, and mitigating the impact of a number of pieces, ensuring they did not misrepresent the bid.

We managed Cobham’s communications effort across all stakeholders, including media, Government, investors, employees and customers.

From bid approval and positive coverage

The Advent bid was approved by shareholders – and by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, who rejected the “national security” argument proposed by stakeholders.

We secured accurate coverage which communicated our key messages in every national UK media outlet – including 30+ media interviews and briefings with key opinion formers.

We provided rebuttals to 200 attempted attack stories – ensuring that the arguments against the bid did not successfully gain traction with key decision makers.

Having worked with Cobham since 2017, when the share price was at an all-time low and was in dire straits, we began working with them in advance of a rescue rights issue to recapitalize the company and prevent it breaching banking covenants.

Three years later we worked on a successful takeover with the value of 4 billion pounds.