We had an interesting response to our poll last week, asking about the implications of the proposed merger (or joint venture, or combination of businesses) between BAE Systems and EADS. In contrast to the responses to Jon Excell’s leader about the subject, which were virutally all negative, the largest proportion of respondents — a slight overall majority, 52 per cent, said that it was a good option for BAE Systems, allowing it to counter its falling revenues owing to defense cutbacks in its main customer markets. A total of 47 per cent voiced concerns over the proposal — 19 per cent said that the transfer of control of the UK’s largest manufacturing business into overseas hands was a sad move, while 28 per cent said that there were questions of security and sovereignty over a majory non-UK controlled company manufacturing most of the UK’s defence equipment, including nuclear submarines and ships. Barely 2 per cent said that the military-civil crossover of the new company would ease the transfer of technology between sectors.
What’s your response to this? Are you surprised by the disparity between the opinions shown by the poll and the responses to our leader? What safeguards might help allay concerns over security and sovereignty? Could BAE Systems develop its own civil capability rather than latching on to EADS’s businesses, and what might be the barriers to this? Let us know below.