Hidden depths: Tracing corporate ownership and its implications in the U.K. defence industry


  • Derek Braddon




Over the last 15 years, the ownership of U.K. and global defense companies has changed beyond recognition. A series of mergers, takeovers, strategic alliances and joint ventures in the defense industry, within and across geographic borders, has created a number of major defense systems providers, supported by a larger but again increasingly concentrated group of first-tier supply chain companies. The complex ownership matrix that emerges from this process of industrial restructuring is well-known although the implications for the industry and for corporate behavior have been less well explored. Furthermore, behind the scenes, an even more complex, almost invisible ownership revolution is taking place as the nature, origin, and power of global investors shows distinct signs of change. There has been little research into who actually owns the defense industry. The article sets out ask how that ownership is changing, and with what consequences. These issues are examined from the perspective of a sample of U.K. defense companies. The article also seeks to address the fundamental question: Does defense company ownership matter?


Barros, C. 2005. “Governance and Incentive Regulation in Defense Industry Enterprises: A Case Study.” European Journal of Law and Economics, Vol. 20, No. 1, pp. 87-97.

Braddon, D. 2000. Exploding The Myth? Lodnon: Routledge.

Braddon, D. 2004. “The Matrix Reloaded – What Future for the Defense Firm?” Defense and Peace Economics, Vol. 15, No. 6, pp.499-507.

Braddon, D. and J. Bradley. 2005. “What Lies Beneath? Who Owns UK Defense Companies and Does It Matter?” Frontiers in Finance and Economics, Vol. 2, No. 1, pp. 68-81.

Dowdall, P. 2004. “Chains, Networks and Shifting Paradigms: the U.K. Defense Industry Supply System.” Defense and Peace Economics, Vol. 15, No. 6, pp. 535-550.

Dunne, J.P., Garcia-Alonso, M, Levine. P, and R. Smith. 2007. “Determining the Defense Industrial Base.” Defense and Peace Economics, Vol. 18, No. 3, pp. 199-221.

Guay, T. and R. Callum. 2002. “The Transformation and Future Prospects of Europe’s Defense Industry.” International Affairs, Vol. 78, No. 4, pp. 757-776.

Harper, J.K. 1998. “Corporate Governance and Performance During Consolidation of the U.S. and European Defense Industries.” Journal of Management and Governance, Vol. 2, No. 4, pp. 335-355.

Hartley, K. 2003. “The Future of European Defense Policy: An Economic Perspective.” Defense and Peace Economics, Vol. 14, No. 2, pp. 107-115.

Hartley, K. and T. Sandler. 2003. “The Future of the Defense Firm.” Kyklos, Vol. 56, No. 3, pp. 361-380.

Hayward, K. 2005. “I Have seen the Future and it Works! The U.S. Defense Industry Transformation – Lessons for the U.K. Defense Industrial Base.” Defense and Peace Economics, Vol. 16, No. 2, pp. 127-141.

Kirkpatrick, D. 2006. “Choose your Weapon: Combined Operational Effectiveness and Investment Appraisal and its Role in U.K. Defense Procurement.” London: Royal United Services Institute.

Matthews, R. and J. Tredinnick. 2001. “Managing the Revolution in Military Affairs.” Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave.




How to Cite

Braddon, D. (2008). Hidden depths: Tracing corporate ownership and its implications in the U.K. defence industry. The Economics of Peace and Security Journal, 3(1). https://doi.org/10.15355/epsj.3.1.64