POLITICIANS from across the West of England have called on central government to block a proposed £7.4billion hostile takeover of an engineering giant based in South Gloucestershire.

An offer to take over GKN, which is based in Filton and makes technology used in the F-35 fighter jet, was put forward last month by Melrose Industries, who specialise in buying existing businesses only to sell them on – a move that has been intensely opposed by many.

While the GKN board have unanimously rejected the bid, Melrose have lobbied the company’s shareholders to consider the takeover.

Describing the offer as “derisory”, GKN chief executive Anne Stevens said: “Melrose is trying to buy GKN on the cheap and with GKN’s own money, just at the point when our company is beginning to reap the benefits of its long-term investments.”

In a letter co-signed by the members of the West of England Combined Authority (WECA), including metro mayor Tim Bowles and South Gloucestershire Council leader Cllr Matthew Riddle, has been sent to Business Secretary Greg Clark, calling on him to use his powers to block the bid.

The WECA leaders say that Melrose’s aim to “takeover, turn around and then sell on companies in a short space of time” would have “serious consequences” and offers “little long-term commitment or investment in GKN”.

The letter also raised concerns that a takeover could also result in the loss of highly skilled and well paid jobs from the region.

South Gloucestershire Council leader Cllr Matthew Riddle said: ““This issue is of significant importance for South Gloucestershire Council and our residents.

“GKN is a major player and employer in the aerospace and engineering sector in Filton. The aerospace sector alone provides more than 15,000 jobs in the South West and this continued success depends on long-term investment, research and planning.

“The loss, or break up of GKN would threaten the objectives of the industrial strategy and bring uncertainty both to the sector and the significant supply chains supporting companies like this.

“I will continue to support GKN at this unsettling time and work closely with the other West of England leaders and Government to ensure that we are doing everything in our power to support the sustainable growth of our aerospace and engineering sectors at Filton.”