Senior defence officials in the United States are “surprised” and “cautious” about the potential for defence giant BAE Systems to merge with a European rival.
Preston North and Wyre MP Ben Wallace is holding a series of meetings in Washington with key legislative assistants in senators offices in Washington in a bid to gather information about what the US thinks about the potential BAE-EADS merger.
The Conservative MP is due to meet Government officials in the American capital on Wednesday to discuss the deal which appears on the brink of collapse.
Under takeover rules, BAE and Airbus parent EADS have until 5pm on Wednesday to announce the terms of the merger or ask for an extension to finalise their plans.
Yet, it is believed government officials in the UK, Germany and France - the three nations with stakes in the two companies - are at loggerheads over the level of state ownership in the enlarged company.
On Wednesday, it was reported German Chancellor Angela Merkel has opposed the merger.
Mr Wallace said he has held meetings with offices of senators for the armed services and of rival companies such as Boeing.
“What they have said so far, and there has only been two meetings, is it is a bit of surprise. This was not how BAE Systems positioned itself in the past,” he said.
“It positioned itself allied or alongside US work.
“They are surprised at that. They are cautious about what the details, which none of us have seen yet, will look like.
“They want to be satisfied that the resulting company does not put their companies at a disadvantage.”
He added: “What EADS can’t get away from is continental Europe does not spend much money on defence – the two who spend money on defence are Britain and America – and to what extent is BAE already maximising that and do they need to share it out with EADS.”
The Evening Post reported on Tuesday how bosses at BAE, which employs 11,500 at factories in Warton and Samlesbury, are poised to ask for a two-week extension to the talks.
Mr Wallace said BAE’s relationship with the Pentagon was crucial to the highly-sensitive F-35 fighter jet, parts for which are built at Samlesbury, where the company has investment tens of millions of pounds in new facilities.
BAE is part of a jet-building consortium on the F-35, led by American giant Lockheed Martin, and there are concerns in the US over sharing sensitive information relating to the aircraft with France and Germany.
The MP added: “The American market is so important to BAE. It is really important to understand how the Americans view this transition and whether or not it would be detrimental to the business in the future.
“At Samlesbury, that facility is part-funded by the US taxpayer, it is part funded by Lockheed Martin.
“If the US were to look at it in a negative light and curtail work it would be very damaging to the company and it is really important to get to the bottom of it.”