Outlook: GKN/Alvis

NEWS THAT GKN is folding its armoured vehicle business into Alvis reduces the number of such manufacturers in Britain from three to two. Whether this is acceptable either to the Ministry of Defence, or the other remaining player, Vickers, remains to be seen, but on the face of it the merger does seem to make a good deal of sense.

Alvis has the better immediate order book, but GKN, with its involvement in the project for a single European armoured vehicle - otherwise known as the battlefield taxi - has the more exciting long-term prospects. Add in the opportunity for stripping out excess capacity and reducing costs and it's hard to fault the logic of what the two are doing.

What is less clear is who will be sitting in the driving seat. On paper, this is Alvis acquiring GKN's interests, but Alvis ends up with a major new shareholder with a near controlling interest. This may not be such good news for other investors in Alvis as it seems, for it means the company can never be bid for by anyone other than GKN.