Ex-Ford and Maserati boss Martin Leach bids for MG Rover
12 July 2005

Former Maserati and Ford of Europe boss Martin Leach is heading a bid for MG Rover that could rekindle the deal with Shanghai Automotive (SAIC). The future for the ailing MG Rover brand could be bright if a new bid for the recently deceased company is successful. The plan, reckoned to be the most credible so far, would result in using Longbridge as a research and development centre, before vehicle production restarts early next year. SAIC is said to be taking the bid ‘extremely seriously’.

Former Ford and Maserati supreme Martin Leach and Ed Sabisky, a former General Motors finance specialist, have been working with Transport and General Workers Union general secretary Tony Woodley, a long-time champion of Rover. The three believe that the industrial logic for a deal with SAIC still holds, and have been talking to the Chinese group for some time.

The insolvency and pension liabilities that stalled the deal previously have ceased to be obstacles now that MG Rover is in administration. It’s thought that SAIC will have to find £100 million to to restart the deal, with additional funds from Leach and Sabisky. The UK Government is likely to be supportive of the deal. SAIC would build the Rover 75 and 25 in China and move the K-series engine facility there, too.

Besides the Leach bid there are thought to be two other bids for the whole company, and five centred around reviving MG and the TF. Among the bidders for MG is former Powertrain boss Fraser Welford-Winton, as well as Chinese company Nanjing, assisted by Phoenix director Nick Stephenson.

Midlands millionaire haulier Martyn Moseley has joined forces with Middle East-backed consultant Krish Bhaskar and intends to bid for the whole company, while corporate troubleshooter David James has also bid to restart MG sports car production. It is not clear when an announcement of winning bids will be made, but it is thought to be close.

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