Archive : Uncertainty As Phoenix Starts Rover Talks

BY ANTONY HOPKER

Confusion reigned over the future of Rover today as venture capitalists Alchemy Partners claimed they were not out of the running. Boss Jon Moulton said the firm which pulled out of negotiations to buy Rover from BMW had set out its terms to return to the negotiating table.

The investors pulled out from sales talks last week when it became clear that BMW would not pay for the redundancies at the Longbridge plant. A rival bid, headed by former Rover executive John Towers was due to begin talks with BMW in London today.

The consortium has spent the weekend pouring over Rover’s accounts after BMW finally gave them access to the books.

It is thought that the plug might be pulled on the Longbridge plant if Phoenix cannot convince BMW that they have the necessary funds to buy the firm.

The Munich-based owners have confirmed that full closure is being considered if a quick sale cannot be fixed.

Phoenix supporter John Hemmings likened the negotiations to finishing the purchase of a house. He dismissed Alchemy’s claims that they were back in the frame. Speculation has been rife over the future of Rover following the collapse of the sale to Alchemy.

It has been suggested that the production of the Mini will be moved to Germany instead of the Cowley plant in Oxford.

The news that the entire Rover operation in Britain could be closed, with the loss of tens of thousands of jobs, has quelled euphoria at Alchemy’s decision to pull out.

Workers had favoured the Phoenix bid as it would lead to a continuation of mass car production, and fewer job losses.

Roger Lyons, General Secretary of the MSF union, said the Government should help the Phoenix bid come to fruition.

He said: “The government now has the opportunity to encourage round table discussions with BMW, including the Towers/Phoenix consortium but excluding Alchemy.”

“I can see light at the end of this dark tunnel.”

Keith Adams
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