Birmingham Post, 19th June, 2009
A Welsh-based group of former Jaguar Land Rover executives is bidding to rescue LDV from extinction – with a pledge to keep jobs in Birmingham by developing new green vans. Low carbon technology specialists Connaught Engineering Limited, based near Llanelli, have become the first would-be buyer from nine who have signed confidentiality agreements to reveal their intentions.
Connaught, run by a group of former JLR executives and others from Aston Martin and other leading car companies, has engaged an unidentified third party from overseas to deal with administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers. If the third party bid is successful, Connaught says hundreds of jobs could be saved at the collapsed Washwood Heath factory, where 810 workers were made redundant last week after the van maker collapsed into administration with debts of £75 million.
Former West Midland-based Ford and Jaguar senior consultant Tony Martindale, Chief Executive of Connaught’s 25-strong workforce in South Wales, said: ‘Through the third party we are talking to, we would endeavour to maintain everything in Birmingham and eventually look to expand to meet the product demand. There are up to eight other bidders so there is no guarantee that ours would be the successful bid but we do want to keep British jobs in Britain – we are absolutely passionate about that.”
Established in 2003, Connaught Engineering Limited is run by a group of former UK automotive industry experts specialising in products which reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions in LDV’s commercial vehicle sector. If they succeed in the bid for LDV, Connaught would look to develop green vans, including a diesel electric hybrid and a full electric vehicle, with a larger variant aimed at the United States.
Through joint collaboration and government support, LDV can grow to be a jewel in the crown within the European automotive sector, once unshackled from the traditional approach to UK manufacturing, and by embracing world-class low carbon technologies developed in Britain. It would make sense to keep British jobs in Britain and make sure that LDV punches its weight with green technologies.” Tony Martindale, Chief Executive, Connaught Engineering Limited.
Mr Martindale said Connaught, which includes former JLR, Aston Martin, Saab and Lotus senior managers among its ranks, would look to get the Washwood Heath factory back into production as soon as possible. ‘We want to deliver what the customer wants and what is unique – we understand the market trends,” he said.
‘It is possible that we could take everybody back but they have got to get the volumes up and make sure that they get the margins right – there is a lot of soul-searching to be done at shopfloor level. Through joint collaboration and government support, LDV can grow to be a jewel in the crown within the European automotive sector, once unshackled from the traditional approach to UK manufacturing, and by embracing world-class low carbon technologies developed in Britain. It would make sense to keep British jobs in Britain and make sure that LDV punches its weight with green technologies.”
Up to nine would-be buyers – including Connaught’s unnamed third party advisers – have already signed confidentiality agreements to undertake due diligence on LDV’s books. Administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers have set a deadline of the middle of next week for first round bids for LDV.
[Source: Birmingham Post]
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