ASSURANCES have been made by a senior minister that the government will look into concerns from the founding family of Dorset-based aerospace giant Cobham over the proposed £4billion takeover of the company.

The company employs people from across Dorset.

The widow of Sir Michael Cobham, who built up the firm over 25 years, criticised the planned sale to an American private equity fund.

Lady Cobham wrote to defence secretary Ben Wallace and business secretary Andrea Leadsom amid growing opposition to the buyout by Advent International.

Mr Wallace has now responded to the intervention, telling the family of the founder that he will “look at” their concerns over the deal and consider the impact on “the security and skills” needed to protect the UK.

The defence secretary said: “I do, of course understand your concerns.

“I come from a long line of UK manufacturers and have always been an active supporter of UK skills and manufacturing. In 2003, I worked for QinetiQ and know too well the competitive nature of industry.

“Let me assure you that I will look at your concerns and will at all times bear in mind the security and skills needed to best protect this country.”

It is understood that those opposing the deal have been encouraged by the Ministry of Defence’s response to Lady Cobham. The board of the aerospace and defence group, led by chairman Jamie Pike, recommended shareholders to accept the all-cash offer for the business last month.

The deal was also criticised by the firm’s largest shareholder, Silchester International, which suggested the move undervalued the firm.

Cobham, which is a major contractor for the Ministry of Defence and US Department of Defence, was founded by Sir Alan Cobham in 1935 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. If the takeover by Advent International goes through, the company would be taken off the London Stock Exchange and into private, US-backed ownership.

 The firm employs more than 1,000 people locally, with its headquarters and a factory at Wimborne and Cobham Aviation Services at Bournemouth Airport.

Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat MP and party business spokesman Chuka Umunna said the government “needs to act” without delay over the acquisition.

He said: “The alarm bells should be ringing loud and clear for ministers here - not only does this transaction pose serious national security questions but it will also have a material impact on our manufacturing base, so it undoubtedly engages the public interest.

“Instead of industrial activism, we see industrial passivism from a government happy to see a jewel in the crown of our defence and aerospace industries threatened.”

A spokesman for the Government previously said it was closely monitoring the takeover process.