Nanjing Automobile Snares UK's Last Indigenous Carmaker

25 July 2005

China's oldest vehicle manufacturer Nanjing Automobile on Friday sealed a deal to buy bankrupt British carmaker MG Rover for just over £50 million ($87m; €72m) - a bid said by administrator PricewaterhouseCoopers to be "materially higher" than others on the table.

The decision to sell to Nanjing has been received with anger by its Chinese rival Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation, which has already bought a raft of MG Rover's technological and other assets.

Since when SAIC has indulged in prolonged gamesmanship over acquiring the remainder of the carmaker. It is now threatening legal action in an attempt to block the Nanjing deal.

Many Britons perceive an acrid irony in two Chinese communist state-owned organizations warring over the remnants of a failed capitalist enterprise, whose long decline was brought about by UK state intervention in the 1960s.

Says the victor: "The acquisition of Rover gives Nanjing the opportunity to establish a presence in Europe, creating high value MG cars in the UK, complemented by volume production of a range of vehicles in China."

Nanjing plans to resuscitate around 2,000 jobs in the UK's West Midlands region, although finance for the restoration of production at the Longbridge plant will have to be raised locally.

And under the terms of the deal, much of Rover's remaining automaking equipment will now be shipped to China.

The latter move has triggered further bitterness locally as the SAIC offer and another on the table from UK 'company doctor' David James would have resulted in the rehiring of many more former Rover workers.

Creditors, including many local component-makers, are owed in the region of £1.4 billion and can at best expect to receive payment equivalent to 3.5 pence in the pound.

As always, however, the accountants and lawyers can expect to make a killing with administrator PricewaterhouseCoopers set to skim the cream before a single penny filters through their fingers to creditors.

Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff