THE £4 BILLION takeover of UK defence giant Cobham, which is based in Wimborne, has moved a step closer after the Government said it is considering giving the all clear to the deal with US private equity firm Advent.

Business secretary Andrea Leadsom said she is "minded to accept" legally binding undertakings from the proposed buyer which would allow the sale to go through.

The undertakings include a requirement that existing security arrangements will be "continued and strengthened".

Ms Leadsom added that she will hold a consultation on the proposals until December 17.

"Following my update to Parliament on November 5, I have now reviewed further national security advice from the Ministry of Defence and met with both Cobham and Advent who have offered legally binding undertakings designed to mitigate national security concerns, which I am minded to accept," she said.

"They will now be considered by a public consultation and I will provide a further update once that process has concluded.

"No decision will be taken on whether to accept the undertakings until the consultation has closed and the representations have been carefully considered.

"This decision on the national security considerations is separate to any discussions on the economic implications of the proposed merger."

In a written statement during Parliament’s last sitting before the general election campaign, business secretary Andrea Leadsom said there needed to be further "full and proper consideration" of the issues involved.

But she said the process would not stop because of the election.

She confirmed that defence secretary Ben Wallace had written to her outlining the national security implications of the bid for the Wimborne-headquartered company from private equity giant Advent International.

Mr Wallace had also outlined the discussions which have taken place with the two firms over concessions to ease concerns.

She also received the Competition and Market Authority (CMA) report on its investigation into the deal on October 29.

Advent International agreed its £4bn deal to buy aerospace firm Cobham in July.

Shareholders in the company voted overwhelmingly to approve the acquisition in September, but the deal has faced fierce criticism from Lady Nadine Cobham, whose late husband Michael ran the business.

Lady Cobham called on the government to halt the deal in order to safeguard hi-tech jobs and protect national security.