By David Hewsan
Japanese financiers will be asked next week to rescue the MG car plant after the withdrawal of some of the British backers for the project. The consortium, led by Aston Martin which agreed to buy the Abingdon plant from the state car company BL to maintain production of the MG as a traditional British sports car, has lost part of its financial support because of the motor industry’s recent poor sales figures.
Mr Alan Curtis, chairman of Aston Martin, who is to fly to Japan next week to seek additional investment for the consortium, said last night: “I am not as optimistic as I was. It is a hard fight. We have a series of critical meetings on our hands both here and in Japan. The confidence of people who were involved in this country has been shaken by economic happenings in the United Kingdom.”
Mr Curtis said he would know by the end of next week if the bid would continue. When BL agreed. to sell the plant in April, it was envisaged that about 600 MGBs a week would be produced by the consortium maintaining employment for most of the 800 strong workforce. As car sales have fallen generally, however, Abingdon has been working a three-day week since the middle of May. Mr Curtis said:
“There is a marked lack of interest from people in this country to invest in anvthing at the moment. They are demanding that we must show 40 per cent growth. MG’s sales have died recent1y along with everybody else’s”
Mr Curtis also praised BL’s efforts to transfer Abingdon to the consortium.