11 April 2005

After being drafted in by Phoenix Venture Holdings on Friday, MG Rover's administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers has estimated that the failing British car maker has been recording a £20 to £25 million loss every month. Longbridge's 6000 workers met this morning, and most have been sent home on full pay, after the government stumped up a £6.5 million loan to cover its overheads for a week. Their jobs and the future of the marque now depends on refreshed negotiations with Shanghai Automotive, which it hopes to reinitiate over the coming weeks.

Exactly which of MG Rover's assets remain, and which have already been sold, is currently being disputed. SAIC claims that, as part of a £67 million deal it struck with MG Rover at the end of last year, it bought rights to the Rover name, as well as to the Rover 25, 75 and to their engines. However, ownership of the Rover name remains with its former owner BMW, and it insists that, accepting MG Rover's joint ventures with SAIC, the Chinese maker has no claim to the badge.

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, despite the apparent severity of MG Rover's financial plight, the maker's remaining assets and workforce provide grounds for optimism. 'We are realistic in our expectations here,' said PwC partner Tony Lomas. 'It is a really complex deal to put together and it will take some time, but we're hopeful we will get an audience to explore whether SAIC are still interested in these changed circumstances.' Those altered circumstances will only devalue whatever MG Rover has left to bargain with. However, as TGWU general secretary Tony Woodley said, 'it's the only hope for 6,000 workers, and that's why we don't give up, we don't move away from an opportunity that's as yet still there.'

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