Ford decides to buy Rover after all
18 September 2006

The Rover name now appears destined for the history books after all, after Ford confirmed that it would exercise its right to buy the brand from BMW.

BMW had agreed to sell Rover to Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation - but when Ford bought Land Rover from the German firm in 2000, the deal stated that it would have first refusal on the Rover name if BMW ever decided to offload it.

Ford has now decided to take up that option, preferring to shell out an estimated £6m for the Rover name instead of relying on contractual obligations to stop the Chinese firm from eventually marketing a rival to the Land Rover.

A Ford spokesman told Reuters, "We feel it is in the interests of our Land Rover business to have the Rover brand. We are acquiring it and we're not looking to sell it. We believe it is a valuable asset for us."

The deal probably sounds the death knell for the Rover brand - Ford's purchase is almost certainly strategic, and it has no plans to produce Rover-badged cars. But it is encouraging news for Land Rover - it seems unlikely that Ford would go to so much trouble to protect its longer-term interests if it was about to sell it, after all...

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