Jon Griffin, Birmingham Post, 15th September, 2009
The Chinese ex-lover of shamed Phoenix Four Director Nick Stephenson has emerged as a potential takeover bidder for stricken Birmingham van manufacturer LDV. However, the takeover could mean the death-knell for van-making in Birmingham, with a “lift and shift” operation to China on the cards if Dr Qu Li seals the deal.
Dr Li, whose affair with the former Rover boss was exposed in the Government inquiry report into the collapse of Longbridge, refused to deny she was in the frame for the Washwood Heath factory. She said: “I’m sorry, I cannot help you. I have nothing to say on this matter at all.”
We still have a confidentiality agreement in place and I do not want to risk that party withdrawing. We are continuing to have a dialogue with a party about buying the business assets and they have signed an exclusivity arrangement.” Rob Hunt of PricewaterhouseCoopers, Administrator, LDV Group Limited
Reports claimed that Dr Li, who was paid £1.7 million for consultancy work with MG Rover over a 15-month period, could seal a takeover at Washwood Heath as early as Wednesday this week. Dr Li’s China Ventures operation is said to be the only bidder left in exclusive talks with LDV Administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers after claims that Malaysian group Weststar has finally walked away.
Rob Hunt, of PwC, said: “We still have a confidentiality agreement in place and I do not want to risk that party withdrawing. We are continuing to have a dialogue with a party about buying the business assets and they have signed an exclusivity arrangement.”
Hopes of a return to production at Washwood Heath, though, remained in the balance amid fears that a China Ventures takeover could lead to a “lift and shift” operation, with the Birmingham production line moved lock, stock and barrel to China.
The chances are this will be a lift and shift operation, with the machinery shipped off to China. It will kill any chance of jobs.” A source close to China Ventures Industrial Limited
More than 800 jobs were lost at LDV in early June when the van maker finally crashed into administration after nearly six months of non-production. A total of nine would-be buyers later signed confidentiality agreements with PWC but exclusive talks with a single party were announced a month ago.
A source close to the China Ventures deal was quoted as saying: “The chances are this will be a lift and shift operation, with the machinery shipped off to China. It will kill any chance of jobs.”
Dr Li, who helped Nanjing after the Chinese car firm originally bought MG Rover for £53 million in July 2005, lives in a £500,000 farmhouse near Studley, in Warwickshire.
[Source: Birmingham Post]
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