They grew by buying, why shouldn't they be bought?

Something that amuses about the attempted takeover of GKN. That being that the company has grown itself through a series of takeovers covering a couple of hundred years. It’s more than a little rich for them to be claiming that a company shouldn’t be taken over therefore:

As the takeover deadline looms, MPs and unions voice fears for Britain’s industrial future if the deal is allowed to go ahead

Airbus has said it won’t be able to offer GKN new work if it can no longer guarantee long-term investment in R&D. Photograph: Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images
It is a company that dates back to Britain’s industrial revolution: an ironworks in south Wales that started in 1759 and supplied the tracks for Brunel’s Great Western Railway. It has become, as GKN, a global engineering giant supplying car and aerospace parts, employing 60,000 around the world and 6,000 in the UK. But now corporate raiders loom in the form of a controversial £7.8bn hostile bid – in which Theresa May’s government has been sidelined, despite its aspiration to develop a new UK industrial strategy.

It’s all rather diddums, isn’t it? And they can’t really even complain or call into account economic nationalism. They took over a Japanese company, a couple of American ones, a German and so on.

A company that lived by acquisition might end up being dismembered by acquisition.


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  1. As the takeover deadline looms, MPs and unions voice fears for Britain’s industrial future if the deal is allowed to go ahead

    So a chorus of voices from precisely the people we should ignore. And the Daily Mail. I feel better about the take over already.

    British people don’t like saving much. The consequence of that is that other people will buy British companies rather than British people buying foreign ones. Tough luck but the alternative is to save more and shop less.

    Besides, no industry can survive with a Trade Union. They have one. They are doomed.

    • Quite right on foreign investment. Although a trade deficit is not an act of war as Trump seems to believe, if you pay a lot of pounds for foreign goods, the way the pounds return, as they must, is in foreign investment.

      Another alternative is coercive barriers to foreign commerce.

  2. Re the new CEO of Gkn

    Her breakneck change at GKN has also turned on its head how takeovers are normally conducted. It’s now GKN’s top team who is relatively new, and looking to break up the company; Melrose is the one with the long-established management, waving the Union Jack and claiming to “invest as if we were to own the businesses forever”

    It’s hard to see why George Osborne is against the Melrose bid and why the Mail had to invoke the Spitfire legend about GKN. The current management wants to surrender control of the driveline business, effectively flogging it cheap while Melrose wants to get a better price. It’s a baffling situation

  3. Now, why would GKN under new ownership not take care of business, nor provide for its future with ample funds for R&D? And how do the proprietors of the National Health Service assert that their involvement in this transaction means a better “strategy” for innovation?

  4. The bid is “hostile” but most of the hostility is on the part of Parliament and labor unions, reported by the Guardian, which is always eager to find and interview victims of the free market. Parliament should turn its attention to its own barriers to domestic investment, and labor unions should focus on worker well-being; it is the business of neither who is in the boardroom.

    GKN itself is not truly “hostile” to this takeover but merely said that a 7% premium over the current share price is not enough.

    The long-time bargain-seeker is now the seller, and in its new role it shifts its argument to the classic seller’s argument that the price should be higher. It would only be ironic if GKN were now claiming that business combinations are inherently bad.

  5. GKN is hardly a stalwart of British Industry if only 10% of their staff are in UK. Anyway, Melrose are a British firm.

    Since bid: Automotive business part sold to DANA (USA)

    If Melrose win and sell aerospace parts, BAE, RR and Airbus SE (was EADS) are likely buyers

    Either way, bid has given GKN board a needed kick in the backside.

    iirc After USA, UK is largest acquirer of foreign firms.

    example Pearl Harbour (Hawawi) Naval dockyard is owned by BAE

  6. BiT-

    “it (melrose) says its approach of buying underperforming businesses, restructuring them and selling them on in three to five years will generate far more value.”

    That’s the bit that worries the TUs. The restructuring will remove them or any deal be renegotiated, and hey presto the value goes up.