Simon Peckham, the chief executive of Melrose, last night hit back at accusations that his £8 billion takeover of engineering giant GKN could jeopardise national security.
‘We are all British,’ he said, referring to himself and his three directors. ‘We live here and our families live here. We are a British company taking over another British company. We are as concerned about national security as anyone else.
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‘Nothing is more important than that, certainly not profit.’ Last Thursday, Melrose won a three-month battle after more than half of GKN’s shareholders supported the deal. But the Government has faced calls to block it.
Peckham said: ‘We are here to protect national security, not damage it and we will give any undertakings the Government requires on that.’
No UK-owned firm has previously been referred on national security grounds. Several foreign ones have been asked to make undertakings.
Peckham insisted it is highly unlikely his board will receive the full £285 million bonus – first revealed by The Mail on Sunday. ‘We would have to create more value in two years than [GKN] have in 250,’ he said. ‘We have to add a billion before we get a bean.’