23 November 2004

Further clues have been leaked concerning the future of MG Rover, and the nature of its agreement with state-owned Chinese manufacturer SAIC. An investment plan bringing four new MG Rover-badged models to Longbrigde, worth as much as £1.5 billion according to some estimates, could safeguard the immediate future for Britain's last remaining volume car maker. In return, MG Rover will surrender its rights to the intellectual property for those models, to be designed and developed by a new joint enterprise part-owned by the British company, but under the control, by a 70 per cent majority holding, of Shangai Automotive.

According to John Towers, chairman of Phoenix Venture Holdings (MG Rover's parent), the deal will safeguard the jobs of the 6,100 who work at Birmingham's Longbridge plant, where up to 200,000 of the new cars will be built yearly. He has also been quoted as identifying 'a medium car, a small car, a large car and a sports car' for the ailing manufacturer, the first of which will be on the market in mid-2006.

The concrete exactitudes of the final deal will only emerge once the Chinese government approves it early next year.

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