Melrose plots sale of first GKN unit since £8 billion hostile takeover

The first sale of a GKN business since its contentious £8 billion takeover by Melrose could kick off in the autumn.

The GKN site in Telford
The GKN site in Telford

It is believed that executives at Melrose are drawing up plans to kick off an auction of GKN's Powder Metallurgy arm.

Engineering firm GKN has a wheels and structures plant at the Hadley Castle Works in Telford as well as other factories dotted around the Midlands, with about 1,000 workers. But the sale of the Powder Metallurgy arm is not expected to impact on the Telford site.

Rothschild, the investment bank, is understood to be in line to advise Melrose on the sale, although it has not yet been formally hired.

Sources close to industrial turnaround group Melrose confirmed that Powder Metallurgy would be sold in the near term, in line with the plan drawn up by GKN's board as part of its defence against Melrose's hostile bid.

However, they insisted that a firm timetable for the process had yet to be formally agreed and cautioned that it could slip into next year.

The Powder Metallurgy division makes high-performance components for automotive and industrial applications through two main divisions. It manufactures for 3,000 customers around the world, producing 13 million parts every day.

Melrose's £8 billion raid on one of British industry's most famous names triggered a political firestorm which abated only when Greg Clark, the business secretary, secured binding undertakings from the Melrose board about their stewardship of GKN assets.


Under the terms of its deal with the government, Melrose must give ministers "early visibility" of potential bidders for any GKN operations with national security implications.

Mr Clark or his successors‎ would also have a veto over any such sale.

Melrose also offered a number of other commitments such as retaining GKN's aerospace division for at least five years, and maintaining research and development spending at pre-takeover levels.

The team of businessmen who founded Melrose have enjoyed huge success with their approach of buying, improving and selling poorly performing industrial businesses.

However, their hostile bid for GKN was on an altogether different scale ‎to any of their previous acquisitions.

GKN's board, led by Mike Turner, claimed that Melrose's team had insufficient expertise or long-term focus to manage aerospace and automotive businesses with global customers such as Airbus and Jaguar Land Rover.

Bankers also expect Melrose to sell other GKN‎ businesses such as Off-Highway Powertrains and a unit which manufactures wheels, although a spokesman said there were no plans for such disposals at this time.

A fractious battle came to an end in March, when just over 52 per cent of GKN's investors voted in favour of the deal.

A spokesman for Melrose declined to comment on the plans for Powder Metallurgy.

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