STOKES: WE’RE NOT BUST
By John Hampshire
Lord Stokes, 60-year-old chief of cash starved British Leyland, flew back from Cairo last night with a £50 million contract in his pocket and declared defiantly: “This company is not bust, we are going to go on. We are merely in a cyclical decline and we will come out of it.”
Then just as firmly he dismissed weekend suggestion’s that he might be planning to resign: “Not me. I am perfectly happy as I am.”
Lord Stokes arrived at Heathrow after signing a contract with the Egyptians to build a Land-Rover and truck assembly plant outside Cairo. A condition of the deal was that British Leyland, now reputed to be wanting to borrow up to £200 million from the Government; should not sell any more products to the Israelis.
Lord Stokes hurried from the airport Customs Hall pushing his own suitcases on a trolley and said: “Not being able to sell to the Israelis would not make any difference to us.”
As for the £50 million contract still to be approved by Egypt’s People’s Assembly, he said: “I am delighted. Of course I am. It is not, however, going to make any difference to our need for additional capital. If we want to go in for expansion then obviously we need the money.”
As he stepped into his brown V12 Daimler, Lord Stokes parried questions about his resignation.
He said: “I have heard nothing about it- I do not pay any attention to Sunday newspaper speculation. I have no intention of offering my resignation.”