BULGARIA TO BUILD MAESTRO
By Tom McGhie
ROVER is planning a partnership with Bulgaria to build the Maestro Clubman as part of a new drive for business in East Europe. Talks have taken place with the Bulgarian Defence Ministry to produce the Maestro, the Land-Rover and pick-up trucks in former arms factories..
A senior Bulgarian economic expert said yesterday that Rover planned initially to spend £11 million on the project and later the investment would soar to £70.5 million with the building of an assembly line. Rover would own 49 per cent of the venture and the Bulgarian Defence Ministry and its subsidiary plants 25 per cent. The remaining 26 per cent would be offered to private Bulgarian firms. The plans are to assemble 46,000 Rover Maestro Clubman models and Land-Rovers and 8,000 pick-up trucks a year. Some 30 per cent of the parts making up 60 per cent of total production costs, will also be made in the plants.
The first Land-Rovers will be assembled in Bulgaria before the end of 1992 followed by the Maestro, a defence official confirmed yesterday. Rover would sell 50 per cent of the output abroad. Until now Bulgaria has had only a small assembly plant for Russian-made Moskvitch cars and imported 120,000 Italian-designed Ladas a year from Russia. This is the second major plan by the Rover Group, which is owned by British Aerospace to build in the East. In January it was revealed that the group planned to sink millions of pounds to build up to 150,000 Montego cars in Russia. Initially the Russians would assemble the Montego from components shipped out from Britain, but ultimately the Russians, who admire the robust Montego design, would build modified Rover designs.