THE government has been urged to intervene in the proposed £4billion takeover of the Dorset-based aerospace and defence giant Cobham.

Liberal Democrat business spokesman Chuka Umunna has become the latest to question the proposed sale to an American private equity fund.

As reported last month, the board of Cobham has urged shareholders to accept a bid for the company from Advent International.

The deal would take it off the London Stock Exchange and into private, US-backed ownership.

Bournemouth East MP and former defence minister Tobias Ellwood has already called for assurances on local jobs.

Mr Umunna said in a letter to business secretary Andrea Leadsom: “The alarm bells are ringing and yet the government has chosen to ignore them and gives the appearance of having abandoned this important industrial asset.”

Cobham’s biggest shareholder, Silchester International Investors, has already said the Advent bid is too low. Mr Umunna said the criticism suggested “one of the jewels in the crown of the UK’s industrial base is being sold on the cheap”.

He suggested ministers should seek undertakings about UK jobs and investment if the government did not stop the takeover altogether.

Cobham, formerly called Flight Refuelling, employs more than 1,000 people locally, with its headquarters and a factory at Wimborne and Cobham Aviation Services at Bournemouth Airport.

The widow of Sir Michael Cobham, who built up the firm over 25 years, has also criticised the takeover plans.

Lady Cobham told the Mail on Sunday: “The company has been built up over many, many years and it deserves to be protected by the government. It’s an opportune moment for Advent to pounce and the reality is that Advent will break up Cobham and sell off its parts to the highest bidder.”

Lady Cobham has written to the government arguing “there are real risks in this takeover to UK security and to important high-tech jobs”.

The company was founded in 1935 by aviator Sir Alan Cobham and moved to Dorset in 1947. Sir Alan’s son Michael succeeded him in 1969 and saw the business floated on the Stock Exchange in 1985.