Unite today (January 12) urged the UK government to block a takeover bid of the engineering firm GKN by Melrose and for ministers to toughen up UK takeover rules so that national and social interests are prime factors in any decision rather than the depth of a hostile bidder’s pockets.
Branding the unsolicited bid from Melrose as ‘predatory’ and ‘destructive’, Unite urged shareholders to hold firm, warning that the bid did not have the long term interests of GKN at heart and could result in the firm being asset stripped if the bid was successful.
Unite went on to warn government ministers that any hope of a coherent industrial strategy would lie in tatters if the Melrose bid was allowed to succeed and would see one of the UK’s oldest engineering firms fall into the hands of speculators.
Unite is the main union representing workers across GKN’s UK automotive, aerospace and research and development divisions which employ a total of 6,000 workers.
The union is in close dialogue with GKN executives and Unite shop stewards will be meeting next week with their European counterparts to agree a coordinated response to stop a takeover.
Commenting Unite assistant general secretary for manufacturing Tony Burke said, “The only interests this predatory takeover bid are in, are those of the speculators looking to turn a quick buck. Government ministers need to step in and block this bid and toughen up UK takeover laws.
“Takeovers need to be decided on more than just how much money a hostile bidder can throw at shareholders. The impact on communities and the national interest need to be main deciding factors in takeover bids as is the case in countries such as Holland.
“If Melrose’s bid is successful it will blow a hole in the government’s hope of developing a coherent industrial strategy and signal that government ministers are happy to see yet another British company fall prey to vulture capital.
“If the bid isn’t stopped it could lead to one of the UK oldest engineering firms being asset stripped, with sites and divisions across the UK being sold off. Unite will be working with all interested parties in halting this destructive predatory bid.
“GKN’s UK workers need to know that the government is on their side too and backs UK manufacturing by stopping Melrose’s bid in its tracks.”